A guy who makes his living posting funny, clever videos to YouTube has taken a serious turn. After he realized he wouldn't be able to do a stunt video involving abducting a child, he took a page from the after-school special playbook and filmed a none-too-subtle warning for parents of young children.
The message? You're kid is one cute puppy away from being abducted.
Video blogger Joey Saladino, whose known as prankster JoeySalads, filmed his "social experiment" in a neighborhood park in New York City. He approached three different mothers and asked whether they've taught their kids not to go with strangers. With their permission, he goes over to the kids with his cute fluffy puppy, talks to them and basically does all but lure them away in a van. His "experiment" is to determine whether kids are truly safe from predators.
The moms are, of course, shocked. As are the viewers, some of whom may have just finally gotten on the "free-range" parenting bandwagon and let their child, we don't know, go out in the front yard. (Modern parenting isn't anything if not fraught.)
The video is making the rounds, with more than 3.6 million views. Problem is, if you talk to child abduction experts, there's something not quite right with the "science" behind Saladino's "experiment."
For one, the kids see him talking to their mothers. That, alone, is a sign for even the most vigilant child to let down her guard. Also? Kids just don't get abducted frequently, certainly not in the numbers that Saladino is claiming. Yahoo Parenting reports that his claim that 700 kids are abducted every day is vastly overstated. The Polly Klaas foundation reports that 100 children (a fraction of 1%) are kidnapped each year in the stereotypical stranger abductions you hear about in the news. The thousands of others reported missing and included in stats from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Kids include runaways, parental abductions, kids who got lost and others. Not stranger abductions.
In the extremely rare cases when a child is abducted by a stranger, Yahoo reports, the "cute animal" lure is one of the most common tactics. Other tactics include promising a child money, candy, a ride or also just asking the kid a question.