A Girl Scout learned the hard way that she can't always rely on the kindness of strangers. Instead of selling Samoas, she had a gun pulled on her by a California man after ringing his doorbell to try and sell him cookies and raise money for her troop. The suspect, 59-year-old John Dodrill, was arrested after the girl's dad witnessed and reported the incident. His gun was seized and he is being held on $25,000 bail.
I'm happy to hear that dad accompanied his daughter on the cookie-selling quest, but I shudder to think what would have happened if she -- like so many other children who sell cookies or chocolate for organized groups or their schools -- had been traveling alone.
I've always loved the way organizations like the Girl Scouts encourage young girls to get out there and sow their entrepreneurial oats. It's great to learn about charity at a young age, and the feeling of accomplishment that comes from selling boxes of these yummy cookies to people who want to help you out is incredibly satisfying.
But, perhaps because I was raised in a mean and ugly big city, I never understood how children could be allowed to go door-to-door unaccompanied by a parent or older guardian. When I had to sell chocolate for my school, I either visited my parents' workplaces and sold to their coworkers or traveled with a friend up and down my block. I can actually remember avoiding the homes of people we didn't know or those who seemed odd or unhinged.
And I certainly don't recall being warned by school officials to be safe and not sell door-to-door alone. It wasn't even a talking point at the time.
Though I know this really horrible incident is not common and that the worst thing most kids have to deal with when selling stuff is character-building rejection, it still serves as a reminder that times have changed and we need to be more cautious.
Children should not be selling door-to-door without a parent or adult present. And wouldn't it be great if organizations could offer kids alternative ways of selling products? Maybe they could be taught how to market and advertise cookies or chocolate or whatever in order to draw customers to a Saturday morning cookie sale hosted at a totally safe location?
Do you let your kids sell things to strangers at their homes? Does this story change your mind about it at all?
Image via Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar/Flickr