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BOTD 04-12-2017 Stranger Danger - An Adric Production

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Bransom Postmaster
An Adric Production

Your 12 year old son, Stephen, is still subject to spanking but you don't have to spank him very often because he is pretty well-behaved.  You and your spouse work downtown in a large city and Stephen is spending his first summer taking care of himself as a "latchkey kid".  His typical routine is to do his assigned chores (wash the breakfast dishes and make the beds) and then catch a bus downtown to read in the main library.  He meets you for lunch at a local hotel coffee shop, returns to the library for awhile, and then catches a bus home in the early afternoon.  He is pretty comfortable roaming around the big city by himself.

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After dinner you got a call from your next door neighbor.  She reports that she saw Stephen getting out of a car in front of your house.  She wrote down the license number on the car because she didn't recognize the car or the driver.

You confront Stephen and he says he was running to catch the right bus home and he just missed it after chasing it for a whole block.  A nice man saw him as he collapsed breathlessly on the sidewalk.  They talked for awhile and Stephen told him where he lived.  The man said he lived nearby and he could give Stephen a ride home.  Stephen accepted the offer and the nice man drove him home and let him out in front of your house.

You have told Stephen repeatedly in the past never to get in a car driven by someone he does not know.  You remind him that he disobeyed you, but he insists that the man was really friendly and that he was just being nice because he saw him miss the bus.  Stephen said he could tell that the man really just wanted to help.  Stephen then asked you to explain exactly what was wrong with what he did.

You don't want to go into that level of detail about what might have happened and you think it should be sufficient that he disobeyed you, but it is clear that Stephen still thinks he is a good judge of character and that he did nothing wrong because the strange man brought him home just like he said he would.  Stephen clearly isn't sorry that he disobeyed.

Does Stephen need his attitude adjusted with your paddle?

Can you dig it?


I think the world is a much poorer place in this world of "everyone is a predator" and "stranger danger" I think the media hype is just that--hype--and that most people ARE nice. But not all of them are

I'm going to explain that, again, to Stephen, and remind him, or perhaps even watch some documentaries with him, that most serial killers are also very charming. Even Charles Manson came off as charming until he "turned" after being turned down for a record contract by Doris Day's son.

I'm not spanking. I will make sure Stephen knows how devastated I would be if anything happened to him. If he doesn't already have an emergency cell phone, I'll get him one with instructions to call ME if he misses a bus (or something similar). I'll try to extract a promise from him not to put himself in danger, or scare me, this way again. This is a situation where I think I can get through to him much better through his brain than his bottom.


Kids all throughout Europe and Asia take buses and travel around cities and the country all the time without the fears that exist in the U.S. and Canada for the past 20 plus years. I am not saying that there is not a healthy respect that should not be maintained before trusting, but that there has been a lot that has been lost by creating fears as great as what has happened here. When parents do not let their children play in the woods of a group of trees a half block in size, that is a loss of an experience that kids need to develop an appreciation of nature.

When kids cannot take a public bus, lest they be "grabbed away" by some unknown stranger, that is an unrealistic fear that borders on paranoia.

So, in the case given here, the boy did get into a car without authorization from his parents to do so. Indeed, he's been told not to do so. I agree with Kier; education is what is needed, not fear-mongering. I will sit with my son and re-educate him on the specific fears I have and why I fear these things, and try to get the appropriate statistics and facts to present in my discussion. There will not be any punishment; that would be counter-productive, I believe.

Y Lee Coyote

Arbitrary sounding rules are NOT effective with (pre)adolescent boy who are starting to be independent.  I need to discus the WHY of the rule so that he understands that there is a good reason for it.  The paddle ain’t going to do this.

We also need a backup plan for when things fail to go according to plan.  I would have expected that there would be another bus within a half hour or less and he could have waited and read at the bus stop.  He should have a phone so he could call.

Surely he could have returned to the library and read until either my spouse or I left work and could pick him up or get the next bus.

Reading is great but he should also be haunting other places like museums rather than being in the library everyday.



Editor Extraordinaire
I agree with Kier. This is a situation that requires reasoning.


David M. Katz

I agree with the consensus. I don't see punishment helping here. I need to help Stephen understand why riding with strangers is a very bad idea. I think helping understand he had options like waiting for the next bus or calling me.

If Stephen doesn't have a phone then he gets one now.

Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult.


Sounds like I need to go to the library and get out a book that gives some insight of what can happen to kids who accept lifts from strangers. I reckon that might make more of an impression on him than my words.


I'm seconding Kier...................... and may the Lord protect me from curtain twitching neighbours.


I agree with the consensus, and especially with MM.

The real problem is that we are pretty safe these days, and that most kidnappings are done by people who are known. However, getting in the car with someone we don't know does seem to skewer that risk.

99 times out of 100, things might happen safely, but I'm going to suggest that Stephen look up Shawn Hornbeck to see if he thinks four years of his life is worth a wait for the next bus.

"In the end, it's just a story. But if you ask me, it's all true."


I ngo with the concensus. It is sad that all men have to be treated as potential threats these days. Sadly the danger is grossly exaggerated by media treatment of incidents when they happen. The sad thing is the nasties can be plausible to youngsters even to 12 year olds who as yet dont have the power to physically resist a grown man. Its a shame that kids like Stephen can be perfectly capable of getting around town and home again safely are denied this freedom for fear they might be plucked off the streets. We will continue educate Stephen on this


This isn't a small thing... when you are in a stranger's car even an adult would be at their mercy, let alone a smallish twelve year old boy... even fifty years ago when Stevie was small children were warned strenuously against getting into cars with strangers. Stevie finds it hard to believe that his namesake in 2017, when the warnings have escalated by two orders of magnitude, would do this...

That said, it wasn't a stranger that molested seven year old Stevie in 1963... it was the teenage brother of his best friend and all...



I see the unanimous opinion so far is that Stephen needs a good talking to, but not a spanking.  As Kier said,
AFinch wrote:I'm not spanking.  I will make sure Stephen knows how devastated I would be if anything happened to him.  If he doesn't already have an emergency cell phone, I'll get him one with instructions to call ME if he misses a bus (or something similar).  I'll try to extract a promise from him not to put himself in danger, or scare me, this way again.  This is a situation where I think I can get through to him much better through his brain than his bottom.
I borrowed the theme for this BOTD from RL.  I was curious to find out whether everyone would say that I needed a spanking.

I didn't get one.  Instead they came in through the brain channel and that worked for me.  They tried to get me to imagine how they would feel if I just didn't come home one day and they never even knew after that if I was dead or alive.  That sounded really sad.  I promised that I wouldn't scare them like that again with something that serious.

And yeah, you're right about me needing a cellphone.  That would have been really useful, but the year was 1957.

And as for the "nice man" who took me home, I won't try to guess what was in his mind.  Most likely he just felt like doing a good deed that afternoon.  Or maybe, just possibly, he liked my body.  It doesn't matter.  He took a risk too, because if I ever were missing after that they would have been tracing his license number and asking him questions.

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