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Unsettling situation with my kids

post #1 of 65
Thread Starter 
I'm not sure if I am overreacting or what....
Last evening my DS (5) just out and tells me that a lady offered them a ride on their way home from the bus stop.
This came out of nowhere, we were just hanging out in the living room, reading and watching tele.
I was alarmed but didn't want to scare him so just stayed casual and asked who it was, was it so-and-so's mom, etc.
He said no, didn't recognize her.
Now here's the confusing part. There's three of them (kids I mean) DS-5, DD-5 and DS-7. They walk from the bus stop a few times a week and have mostly done fine with exception of arguements over who is faster etc. The main rules are, come strait home, stay together and don't go with anyone, I don't care who it is, NO ONE.
However, yesterday DD ran (way) ahead and older DS lagged behind so when this vehicle stopped by DS -5, DD didn't see/hear anything and older DS didn't hear and didn't really pay attention-to the point that he can't even recall what the car looked like.(he's often lost in his own thoughts anyway)

I fretted over this all night and wracked my brain as to who we know who could have offered my child a ride. And why? And why didn't this person call me if it was someone I know.....?
So this morning I sat DS down and explained that no one's in trouble I just want to hear what happened.
He described the vehicle, he somewhat described the lady. He then told me where it happened. Almost across from our house.
So now I'm thinking, if it was someone we knew WHY would they offer my child a ride when he's 50 feet from his doorstep?
The more I thought about it the stranger it seemed. I called the only person I know who drives a vehicle like the described one just to check that it wasn't her, but no, she was working (and I was caring for here 1 yr old at the time).
So I took the kids to school then called the police. They filed a report and will be patroling the area.
But part of me is thinking, What if it was just someone passing a friendly remark and my child misconstrued it? (But again I think, it was a cold, drizzly day, someone wouldn't be cruising around with their windows down making friendly remarks to pedestrians, particularly little children, they'd have to actually stop and roll down their window)
But I've also got three different kids with three different stories, but on the other hand my kids are very street smart, they've never made anything up (like this) before. We haven't talked about strangers, etc in quite a while so it most likely wasn't in the front of their minds.
And, above all, my child said it was wierd, and I beleive something weird happened.
I just hope I didn't overreact by calling the police.
BTW I am picking them up at the bus stop today, and will be for the foreseeable future, I'm going early just to see who's around.
Any thoughts............?
post #2 of 65
OMG! Sounds really weird to me. I think you definitely did the right thing. Better to error on the side of caution, right? Especially when it comes to little ones.
post #3 of 65
I'd be freaked out, too. Sounds sketchy at best. IMO, calling the police wasn't an over-reaction - it's not like you have all the details, but it's not like they're going to go out and make an arrest, either. Sounds like it'll be a good thing to have them patrolling the area a little better.
post #4 of 65
It was probably some old woman thinking, "Oh, these kids are out walking home and it's cold. It can't harm anything for me to give them a ride home." Not being that aware of the whole "stranger danger" thing. I mean, once upon a time things were much more relaxed. I remember neighbors, including ones I didn't know all that well, giving me a ride home from the bus stop, and it was no big deal back in the 70s. At least not in the town where I was living in those days.

So someone who hasn't had kids for a while might not have thought about the stranger danger thing and just have seen wet cold kids. Maybe she was thinking of when her kids were little in an earlier decade and got rides home when it was cold and wet.

Now, I don't think you were wrong to call the police though, just so they can keep an eye open. But I wouldn't get your kids or neighborhood in a panic over it.

We recently had a "stranger danger" situation here in my town that turned out to be the newspaper delivery guy. He slows down at houses to put a paper in their box, and some kids thought he was slowing down because of them.

I also read about some old lady and old man who waved at some kids playing, and the kids got scared and the police were called over that.

Anyway, kids are right to not go into people's cars, but not everything a kid sees as a potential abduction turns out to be one. But I don't think it was wrong to call the police regardless. Just because it was probably not an attempted abduction doesn't mean it absolutely wasn't.
post #5 of 65
How far away is your bus stop? I guess, personally, if I couldn't see them getting off the bus and walking to the house, I would be there to meet them, at that age. My kids are about to turn 7 and 9, and luckily our bus stop comes right on the corner of the street, but if it were any further away I would drive or walk them.

I think you did the right thing talking to your kids about it, and talking to the school/police since it concerned you.

I do know that my neighbor across the street has offered and picked up my kids in her van to drive them to the bus stop (literally a house length down from hers, though we have big lots here) when it was raining. So, even though she knew they were seconds from reaching the bus stop, she picked them up. But since I was watching from the door, I was able to signal/yell that it was okay.

I wonder if it was a neighbor or well-meaning person who thought it was too cold for the kids to be out? Just trying to ease your fears a bit, even though I know I would be a bit freaked too in that situation.
post #6 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by childsplay View Post
But again I think, it was a cold, drizzly day, someone wouldn't be cruising around with their windows down making friendly remarks to pedestrians, particularly little children, they'd have to actually stop and roll down their window
I agree that it might just be a friendly person or neighbor you don't know on your block/street who was driving down the road, saw a little child walking in the cold and rain, and offered a ride.

Heck, I would probably do the same, and I "know" better, but sometimes little kids in not-so-great situations like that make me sad....I wouldn't want to be walking home cold and wet either!

Why she didn't offer the other kids a ride, I don't know. Surely she would have seen them. That's the only part that kinda seems off to me.
post #7 of 65
OP, you aren't over-reacting. This is exactly the chilling scenario I've read time and again in abduction cases in the news. It happens, it's real, it's out there.

There was some thread on here recently and someone said, "I don't see what the problem could be, letting little kids walk alone." What you just described is exactly why I don't! You can't be too careful.
post #8 of 65
My kids are 6 & 8 and daycare girl 9, and they still don't walk themselves to the bus stop.

I think you are right in accompanying them from now on.
post #9 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamazee View Post
It was probably some old woman thinking, "Oh, these kids are out walking home and it's cold. It can't harm anything for me to give them a ride home." Not being that aware of the whole "stranger danger" thing. I mean, once upon a time things were much more relaxed. I remember neighbors, including ones I didn't know all that well, giving me a ride home from the bus stop, and it was no big deal back in the 70s. At least not in the town where I was living in those days.

So someone who hasn't had kids for a while might not have thought about the stranger danger thing and just have seen wet cold kids. Maybe she was thinking of when her kids were little in an earlier decade and got rides home when it was cold and wet.

Now, I don't think you were wrong to call the police though, just so they can keep an eye open. But I wouldn't get your kids or neighborhood in a panic over it.

We recently had a "stranger danger" situation here in my town that turned out to be the newspaper delivery guy. He slows down at houses to put a paper in their box, and some kids thought he was slowing down because of them.

I also read about some old lady and old man who waved at some kids playing, and the kids got scared and the police were called over that.

Anyway, kids are right to not go into people's cars, but not everything a kid sees as a potential abduction turns out to be one. But I don't think it was wrong to call the police regardless. Just because it was probably not an attempted abduction doesn't mean it absolutely wasn't.
This. I recall speaking to a retired law enforcement person once (it wasn't regular police, seemed something higher up but I don't recall what) and he told me that the vast majority of people that you see are not a threat. Some are indifferent, but they figured in his line of business that there was roughly 1% of the population you had to worry about. Odds are it was truely nothing of significance or any kind of threat. However, with that being said I would have definitely reported it to the police as well and would be keeping a closer watch just in case.
post #10 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by SunshineJ View Post
This. I recall speaking to a retired law enforcement person once (it wasn't regular police, seemed something higher up but I don't recall what) and he told me that the vast majority of people that you see are not a threat. Some are indifferent, but they figured in his line of business that there was roughly 1% of the population you had to worry about. Odds are it was truely nothing of significance or any kind of threat. However, with that being said I would have definitely reported it to the police as well and would be keeping a closer watch just in case.
1% is not 0%.

I am 100% sure my kids are getting home safe and sound if I am meeting them at the bus stop myself.

We have to be careful though, this thread will turn into another debate soon.

I think the OP was not over reacting at all, and I think she handled it very well in regaurds to how she talked to her kids about it. I would have found it very hard not to hypervenilate if I was the one hearing that story from my son.
post #11 of 65
Did your 5 year old appear unaccompanied, having run ahead of his sibs? If I saw a small kid out alone on the road in the rain I might well think of asking if they were okay, needed a ride etc.
post #12 of 65
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anastasiya View Post
I agree that it might just be a friendly person or neighbor you don't know on your block/street who was driving down the road, saw a little child walking in the cold and rain, and offered a ride.

Heck, I would probably do the same, and I "know" better, but sometimes little kids in not-so-great situations like that make me sad....I wouldn't want to be walking home cold and wet either!

Why she didn't offer the other kids a ride, I don't know. Surely she would have seen them. That's the only part that kinda seems off to me.
Could have been. But, my kids weren't in a not so great situation. They were just doing what they normally do and they like walking. They were dressed appropriately for the weather with waterproof snow coats and snow pants, hats mitts and boots, and eating their way home snacks. If it were pouring rain, sure I'd have gone and picked them up, but an overcast drizzly winter day that they're well dressed for? Usually not. So no, they weren't cold and wet. In fact when they got in, they dumped their backpacks and went back outdoors.

I'm hoping that it was just a neighbor who DS may have not recognized for whatever reason, who may have just said something that he misunderstood. But if that were the case why wouldn't she have taken 10 seconds to pop into my house and say look I think I scared your kid, or hey your kids look miserable or whatever. That way I could have dealt with it rather than DS who shouldn't have to. Or even told DS who she was (X's Mom or Mrs. X or your 5 door down neighbor...)
post #13 of 65
IMHO 5 is too young to walk home alone, and 7 is too young to have the responsibility of two 5 year olds. I'd accompany them, for sure. Anything could happen - not just the ride lady, but mean dogs, bullies, accidents.
post #14 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by childsplay View Post
Could have been. But, my kids weren't in a not so great situation. They were just doing what they normally do and they like walking. They were dressed appropriately for the weather with waterproof snow coats and snow pants, hats mitts and boots, and eating their way home snacks. If it were pouring rain, sure I'd have gone and picked them up, but an overcast drizzly winter day that they're well dressed for? Usually not. So no, they weren't cold and wet. In fact when they got in, they dumped their backpacks and went back outdoors.
Well, that makes more sense to me then. Where I'm from a cold drizzly winter day is usually a pick-up-in-a-vehicle day because no one here owns snow suits or boots.
post #15 of 65
To be honest, it fit the pattern the predators wait for. Several small kids, lag apart, then approaches one. So while 99% of the time it was innocent, it did fit the profile. But your child did the the right thing and didn't go so you should feel good about that too!
post #16 of 65
When I was 6 years old, an older woman in a late-model car tried to give me a ride. I was alone and it was unpleasant weather for walking, which where I was meant 90+ degrees. EXACT same scenario, I wanted to go home & big brother stopped at someone's house. I said no and she persisted a little bit, but I pointed to a house and walked up to it and she drove off. I was scared. Statistically, she was probably totally harmless. But 25 years later it is a VIVID memory and I know in my heart I avoided a dangerous situation. Good for your kids for trusting their instincts! But at minimum I'd walk with them until you know that they will stay together.
post #17 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by einalems View Post
OMG! Sounds really weird to me. I think you definitely did the right thing. Better to error on the side of caution, right? Especially when it comes to little ones.
I completely completely agree!
post #18 of 65
I've offered and given kids a ride home in bad weather. One time, I drove two kids home who lived practically across the street from the school.

They were kids I knew...I knew their names and who their teachers were, but the parents didn't really know me at the time. They probably knew who I was, and they could call around and probably find someone who had my phone number. But, they didn't KNOW me. (this was before everybody in the world has cell phones, so I couldn't call and ask)

But, these were also kids that would have walked home with MY kids if I were letting them walk. So, it was the best thing to do. Otherwise, we would have been leaving them to walk alone.

I kinda worried that it would be weird to drive them home, but I worried more about just driving away and leaving them there.

Even though, I have given kids a ride home without asking the parents, I would still be concerned if one of my own kids said "it was weird". I would praise him or her for using common sense and listening to their instincts. Then, I also would have called the police. Just to be cautious. If something does happen to another child, at least you know somebody will come talk to you to see if your son can help find this person.

It may just be a nice mom who's child was in your son's class, and worried about seeing him walking home. (some people freak out over these things) and just wanted to offer him a ride. Or even a mom who's child hasn't made friends yet, and MOm was trying to forge a friendship by offering a ride.
post #19 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by calpurnia View Post
Did your 5 year old appear unaccompanied, having run ahead of his sibs? If I saw a small kid out alone on the road in the rain I might well think of asking if they were okay, needed a ride etc.


So, if I understood correctly your DD had run "way" ahead. If DS was only 50 feet from your house, I assume that means she was to your house by then? DS was walking home and a ways behind him was your older DS. So it could have easily looked like a 5 year old child out by himself? I could easily see myself not approaching the child but watching the child to make sure he was going somewhere very close. Perhaps she didn't offer the 7 year old a ride because he seemed older and more able to be "alone."

I think picking them up is a good idea, but I think another idea you might want to consider is impressing upon your children that when you allow them to walk home without you they are to do it together. DS & DD occasionally walk home w/out me and I would be quite upset if one ran far ahead of the other. They know they are to stay together and they are 8 & 11 so much more able than a 5 year old (I assume) to handle themselves on their own. JMO.
post #20 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by MissLotus View Post
OP, you aren't over-reacting. This is exactly the chilling scenario I've read time and again in abduction cases in the news. It happens, it's real, it's out there.

There was some thread on here recently and someone said, "I don't see what the problem could be, letting little kids walk alone." What you just described is exactly why I don't! You can't be too careful.
I agree with this. It is better to be safe than sorry.
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