How's this for a lesson in stranger danger? A man went to pick up his friend's daughter from elementary school and ended up with the wrong girl. When Art Deaner tried taking the kid back to school to straighten the whole thing out, cops placed him under arrest!
The whole mess has since been straightened out, and Deaner has been cleared of any wrongdoing. But there's a lesson in the pick-up fiasco for every parent out there. Whoever you're sending to pick your kids up from school, make sure it's someone your child knows! And for goodness sake, teach them not to get in the car with a stranger. You never know what could happen ... to the stranger.
Apparently the problem came down to kids with the same names. Deaner was supposed to pick up a little girl named Courtney Fetters. He's friends with Fetters' dad, and he was doing him a solid. So when he rolled up to the school and saw a little girl waiting for a ride, he asked if she was Courtney. As it happened, it was Courtney ... Courtney Durr. Durr was also expecting a friend of a parent (in this case her mom) to pick her up from school, so she thought nothing of hopping in the car.
You can pretty much guess how it went from there. Deaner thought he had the right kid, but when he realized he had the wrong one, he did the right thing and brought her back to school.
It's the kind of story that keeps moms like me up at night. I've taught my daughter about stranger danger who knows how many times, but does it sink in? When push comes to shove, will she remember?
I know some parents pull the "I'm always there for my kid" card with situations like this, but let's just turn off the sanctimony for a minute. Stuff happens! There may come a time when you have to send someone else to pick up your child because, who knows? Maybe you're at the hospital after an accident or you are so sick you can barely get out of bed (and please, if you are, don't drive!).
That's when our training matters.
I can't fault this guy here at all for picking up the wrong kid. He checked on her name, they weren't that far apart in age (the Fetters girl is 6, the Durr girl is 9), and some people just aren't very good with details. There's a running joke in my family that every woman on earth is 5'8" with brown hair because my father is pretty fuzzy on descriptions.
The child, on the other hand, even though she's just a kid, should have been trained not to get in that car. Even though that man knew her name, he was still a stranger.
I've tried to make it a little easier on my daughter by telling her not just who can't pick her up from some place (be it school or a playdate), but who can. Should an emergency arise, she knows that a select few people have my permission to take her somewhere. Anyone else tries, and she knows to say no, find a responsible adult, and call me immediately.
At least, I think she knows. I'm going to have to ask her again tonight!
Are you going to go over stranger danger with your kids again after this? What have you done to ensure your kid wouldn't get into a stranger's car?
Image via BotheredbyBees/Flickr