Investigation: Watch what happens when a stranger asks three kids for directions

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DENVER — Even if your kids seem to understand the risks of talking to strangers, when they’re in that situation, with a ‘nice stranger’ asking them for help, they sometimes forget everything mom and dad have told them.

FOX’s Heidi Hemmat partnered with parents for an important safety lesson. In her story in the player above, a friendly man in a car asks kids for directions to the zoo.

Watch to see what they do and then perhaps share the video with your kids and have another conversation about strangers.

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  • Todd

    I slightly disagree with this overall. I bet the boy at the end was actually probably the smartest out of all of them. Kids can pick up on weird situations a bit better than adults, and he probably saw right through the test subconsciously. It’s my belief that someone actually trying to hurt him would give off different vibes. I just don’t like children to think any person asking for help is always going to hurt them.

    • Melba

      I think Todd may be the 3rd kid’s dad.

      To say that you have an inclination that the 3rd child “is the smartest” is based off what exactly? He certainly failed that experiment. This statement right here is just laughable and completely and utterly baseless: “Kids can pick up on weird situations a bit better than adults, and he probably saw right through the test subconsciously.” LOL! What??

      Actually, I think this is a great test to gauge the susceptibility and naivete of children. I certainly do not care one iota if my two daughters believe that anyone asking for their help is going to hurt them. I’d rather someone view them as rude, ill-mannered, and cold children then have to find out they got abducted, raped, or murdered.

      Also, to all of you people claiming this is a terrible experiment, regale to me the last time you asked for a young child’s help with anything?? I certainly can’t remember. And I most certainly can’t remember the last time I felt the need to spark up a conversation with a young child about anything.

      To JS and this golden nugget here: “The future of America is bleak.” So by this ridiculous assertion, you’re saying the future is bleak because trying to teach children that the world is filled with child predators(who don’t normally go around advertising their intent of malicious behavior) is a bad thing?

      The rest of your terrible comment is just so stupid, I’m too busy face palming to even begin dissecting it.

      • Todd


        I definitely think you have a point. My point is that I trust a kid I raise to have a lot of confidence in themselves and their ability toTeaching them to be fearful all the time isn’t going to help. I mean, most child abductions, rspes and murders are from ppl the children and family know well, it’s not even close. Fact check that Melba, by far and away a true statement. You have to be able to diagnose the problem correctly first before you can solve it. It’s a complicated issue no doubt.

      • Tina

        Melba, I completely agree with you. I don’t blame these kids but I don’t see the boy being the smartest, nor the dumbest. In fact, I see my 8 year old son doing the same thing and I know he’s very smart. But he’s also very, very sociable and this is both a good and bad thing for obvious reasons. I plan on showing him this video even though we’ve broached this subject many times. I haven’t shared with him the horrible abduction and murder of the little girl from the Springfield area, which is near our hometown, but I feel it’s necessary to make our points more substantial.

        There is absolutely no logical reason why any adult would ever ask for directions from a child. As these sick perverts come up with different ways to lure children to their cars, we must also try to teach our children all the ways they may be approached and unfortunately this means thinking like a sicko sometimes. But I’m willing to do this if it means saving any child’s life, not just my own.

    • Felicia King

      That’s what I thought, thanks. The first girl didn’t ignore him, just said “No” and kept on riding away from the car in the opposite direction. She’s a kid, so you her parents instill in her not to talk to strangers. The second girl acted like a scaredy cat, but she saw a situation she didn’t like and wanted to get away. That’s still good. The boy was kind and offered the directions because the man seemed nice and polite and his appearance didn’t seem scary. He gave the directions politely, he did walk closer to the car. He shouldn’t have walked closer to the car but stayed on the sidewalk and pointed the directions indicating it is only a couple blocks away. He did see some danger when the guy asked for him to get in and show him. He politely said “No thank you” and backed away from the car.
      You don’t want to raise your kid to think that everyone is out to hurt you. Not everyone is bad. The thing is is that you can’t tell by just looking at them whether they are bad or good. So you have to teach them to be aware in the situation, not putting themselves in unnecessary danger. Knowing how to get out of danger. But also how to be polite, respecting your elders, saying “Sir” and “Ma’am”, “please” and “thank you”.
      I thought the boy and the first girl did the best. Although next time I hope the boy stays on the sidewalk.

      • Samantha

        Exactly my thoughts. The first one and the third one (with a little tweaking) did the best. The second one panicked – and I don’t feel the situation merited that kind of panic.

        It’s not the fact that the third one tried to help, or the fact that the third one was polite in the end.. it’s the fact that he approached the car with very little prompting. If this were my child that’s the part which would concern me.

    • Melba

      Todd, I absolutely agree that a substantial portion of abuse begins within the vicinity of known people, so no need to ask me to fact check that because I’m well aware.

      Sure, I can try my best to instill the ability of having the prowess to deduce a sketchy situation or an acceptable situation to my children when one presents itself, however, I’d much rather them be “cut throat” or in Felicia King’s words…”scaredy cat” in all situations.

      I’d rather have to give them a “pep talk” about how they did the right thing in giving the cold shoulder to some strange nice guy than mourn their disappearance.

      And sure, like you stated previously, I’d like for my children to be able to diagnose the situation at hand correctly, but I’d rather them err on the side of caution than ever be in a situation as shown in the video and ensuring they say “yes Ma’am and no sir”….

    • Red

      Todd, obviously you don’t have children…
      First of all, a child isn’t in the position to “help” an adult…they can go get help but other than that any adult that needs “help” from an eight year-old child is up to no good! Obviously, unless the adult is bleeding, unconscious, etc. but then again all they can do is get help from another adult. Secondly, where and how does an eight year-old come upon or obtain their ability to detect a “weird situation” because it is certainly not based on their life experiences.
      I have two boys and I much rather them think that every adult stranger needing their help will hurt them rather than taking a chance on that ONE time that the adult they’re helping to WILL hurt them.
      Yes, we would like to think everyone is nice and that they mean well but the truth of the matter is my child(ren)’s lives are most important to me versus an adult stranger’s.
      Yes, the last girl did seek the help of a stranger by running up to the house; but again, this is not about being politically correct, or double standards, etc. It’s about taking measures to ensure your child doesn’t become another statistic. Should my child cause a scene and it was a false alarm, I’m good with that…the adult should be seeking the help from another adult NOT a child of any age!

      • Todd

        *I said. Kids are smart and can help. You aren’t making any new points.. It’s all opinion at this point and I’m not going to keep responding. Read Felicia Kings response to my post, she explained it very well.

    • kmschuchart

      A local 10 year old girl, Hailey Owens, was just abducted and murdered Tuesday. Her kidnapper stopped and asked her for directions, and when she got close enough, he threw her into his truck and drove off with her. In broad daylight. With witnesses in their yards. I’m sure he seemed like a “nice man” too.

      • Todd

        Well, I’m certainly sorry to hear that, however if you’ll look at the total thread from my original comment that you are responding to, you’ll see I agree with the statement Felicia King made about the boy shouldn’t have come so close to the mans car. But it’s difficult for me to change my mind on this when I don’t know all the details of this abduction. And also, you have to realize that sometimes, even if you take every safety precaution in the world, you still may not be able to prevent some tragedies. I’ll pray that the little girls family gets justice.

  • JS

    This test, itself, is wrong on so many levels. The future of America is bleak. Scared kids learning Govt. Common Core Socialist CRAP and being taught that all people who are not their family are bad. Pathetic.

    • Felicia King

      I don’t see how it’s a bad test. It’s good to show the kids the danger of what could happen so that they can be aware and alert. I do think they over reacted on the boy though. Like that Bearenstein book how Mama Bear was teaching Sister Bear about strangers using the apples. It isn’t always the yucky looking apples that have the worm in it, it was actually a pretty apple that had the worm in it. But she emphasized that most people are not out to harm another, but you can’t the ones that are just by looking at them.
      I think the script test was a good idea and got good results from the kids, but I think the officer is wrong that you have to teach your kids it’s ok to be rude to someone just because they’re a stranger. That part was wrong. I think the first girl and the boy did the best. Obviously a kid is taught not to talk to strangers so anyone wouldn’t take to heart her reaction. She simply said “No” and kept on to safer ground. The boy was polite and gave the directions, but he should have stayed on the sidewalk away from the car. You can be polite and give directions while still keeping a safe distance. It is understandable while talking to a kid if that kid is hesitant with strangers. They are supposed to be alert and aware of their surroundings, but they shouldn’t be rude.

  • Heidi

    I don’t feel it’s wrong to teach your children to be cautious of strangers, and I feel it’s good to teach them to scream, yell, and make a scene should a stranger ever approach them. However, I also don’t think it’s a good idea to teach them that all strangers are bad. Chances are good that if the unthinkable were to happen and a child did scream, yell, and make a scene, it would be a stranger that would come to their rescue. Children should be taught to do exactly what the girl on the bike did…keep going. I don’t think the second girl was wrong to run away. I may have missed it, but did she know the person who lived at the house where she ran? It may have been a stranger as well. I would hope my child would have the presence of mind to do something like that to get someone else’s attention.

  • Red

    For those that believe in “all or most people are good”….watch the ID channel for half a day, maybe that’ll change your mind!

    Politeness, yes ma’am, yes sir, thank you, etc…don’t even play a part in this scenario or any other of it’s kind. Children need to get away and get away fast! Who are they offending? A stranger, an adult, so…the point is? I was taught to not talk back, to be polite, to be courteous, respect my elders, however…I also was able to think for myself and wasn’t afraid to speak my mind – which ultimately saved me from being molested by a relative. On the other hand my sibling that was a people pleaser, quieter, soft spoken…was not so lucky.

    just sayin’

  • DJ

    Let’s continue to make sure our kids are always afraid about a situation that happens less today than it did 20 years ago.

    If a kid is never to talk to strangers, how are they supposed to ask a police officer for help? How are they supposed to talk to their teacher on the first day of school? This idiocy means they can’t talk to a librarian to get help finding a book in a library because, God forbid, they talk to a stranger.

    Statistically, abductions happen when the child knows the abductor. How much do you want to bet they won’t run this scenario with mom picking them up from school early without day’s knowledge? Maybe those moms are the real danger, and the news crew just sent those kids into a more dangerous situation!

  • Kim

    In my opinion, the best thing to do is to talk to your children. Watch the video with them. Talk with them about each situation that occured. No adult in a car (especially with a smart phone in their hand!) should EVER ask a child for directions! There is a difference between raising our children to be respectful and polite and raising them to be streetsmart and safe.

  • jen

    I do not agree with most of these statements at all. When I was in high school, a friend of mines little sister and 2 other little girls were taken by a stranger who killed them and left them to rot. When this occurred it rocked our town. These girls were older and did not know this guy at all. It is suspected with the sisters that he lured one close enough to grab and then threatened her life to lure her sister in. These girls were all older and knew better and the statistics that its normally someone you know didn’t do anything to help these girls at all. Watching what this did to my friend and her family (we knew the sisters as well but not as closely. Their father was the photographer at my sisters wedding) go thru this trauma and how Sofia death still affects them to this day, yes my kids are gonna be the rude ones that tell you to go off somewhere and walk away. When you have lived thru this you tend to be less sympathetic to the lost stranger and more world ready for your kids.

  • Hannah Bixby Irving

    I think the idea is to teach our children DISCERNMENT. And that is not a one-time conversation about stranger-danger, but an ongoing dialogue about how to handle different scenarios (it’s OK to take off your clothes in front of a doctor when Mommy’s here with you, but you should never take off your clothes for an adult unless Mommy knows about it and has said it’s OK; You NEVER walk up to the window of a car when somebody wants to ask you something or show you something, unless it is a family member or a GOOD friend of Mommy & Daddy’s). I don’t teach my kids TO be rude, but I do tell them that the one time they are allowed to bite, kick, hit, etc. an adult is when an adult is trying to grab them or hurt them in any way. There is no way to cover every single scenario that could possibly come up, but hopefully by keeping the dialogue open about it, you will have in some way instilled judgment in that child that will kick in and help him to act appropriately in any given situation. I will be showing this video to my children today and talking it through with them to reinforce the things we are teaching them.

  • Homesick

    The boy was respecting his elder. He stayed away from the car until asked to point it out on the phone. At this point he couldn’t have been take. With out a scene, unless his magical and can teleport outside the car grap the kid and teleport away. The child was in the way of opening the door and as soon as the man asked him to get in his instincts kicked in and he backed away. This boy just showed respect and intelligence. The second girl has a fear of the world. Could have been taught, could be instinct. The first girl handled it the best. Polite answer and kept on moving. This story made the boy look dopey and trusting. Perspective, take a positive supportive view, or a fearful ignorant view. No kid handled this poorly, no one got in the car.

    • Linda

      Hailey Owens was grabbed outside of the vehicle and thrown in like a ragdoll. She tried to walk away and he grabbed her in front of witnesses. Hailey didn’t know this man.
      I would rather my kids be afraid and rude to strangers than end up like Hailey. Nothing wrong with teaching your kids caution.

      • Homesick

        Linda, if you did more research about Hailey Owens you would know that the accused abductor was a school athletic director and he opened his door grabbed her, threw her in and took off. This boy walked up to the window and NO HUMAN can pull a 60-80lb kid threw a window without injuring them selves. I understand you’re opinion and respect your right to it. I just don’t agree with you. I posted on here to change the negativity about how a boy was respectful yet cautious. We as society need to praise that more than fear. Do you know how many child abductions happened in your town last year? And how many children live in your town? Do the math. It is possible but again it may never happen. You can live in fear but it’s unfair to your children, if you have any, to teach them it is the only way to live. Kids die everyday in car wrecks, so do you put your kid in a car? Everything is about perspective.

  • Peter

    Sorry, but I think that I am in a minority here. It seems that we are raising a generation of kids who afraid of their own shadow. There is little reason why a kid should be afraid to talk to someone simply because they are a stranger — people who are known to the kid can hurt the kid just as much as a stranger.

    I expect my kids to help people in giving directions to drivers who are lost in our neighborhood, or to engage in conversation with people who my kids might not know. And if I would be lost in someone else’s neighborhood, I would see nothing wrong in asking a kid for direction.

    Let’s not automatically turn every adult who talks to a child into a pedophile.

  • Cindy Edwards

    its better to make your kids aware of the possible dangers than to leave them unaware and unprepared for these kind of encounters-but in the end they are children and vulnerable to preditors. they should be able to rides their bikes and go out to play-its a shame that there is so much discusting deviate sexual and murderous behaviour happening-but it is here all around us and we need to arm them with the tools to survive. and we need to find ways to make society a safer place for them.

  • Silver Fang

    Because God forbid parents teach their kids to actually engage in civil conversation with adults. Newsflash: Kids will become adults and will have to interact with strangers their whole lives. Should they get in a car with a stranger? No. Of course not. But to tell a child that they should run away just because someone calls to them is why society is so full of people who are scared of their own shadow and don’t know how to converse with those around them anymore.

  • Warren Pacholzuk

    This is just wrong on sooooo many levels. Child one is just rude. Child two raised by paranoid parents that have scarred her emotionally. Child three polite, helpful and knows the rules.
    As soon as the boy was asked to get in the car he backed off. Well done.
    Stranger Danger is a crock, there is absolutely nothing wrong with talking to strangers, you just do not go off with them. Even the FBI thinks Stranger Danger is flawed.