Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Stranger Danger

As a child of the 70s and early 80s, I can remember many carefree summer days being spent riding my bike to my neighborhood friends' houses, walking blocks with them without parental supervision to get ice cream, getting dropped off at the movies and generally, for most of the time, being somewhere where adults couldn't reach us. We didn't have smartphones back then, and didn't need them. The world just wasn't the scary place as we know it today and our innocent minds didn't know about child molesters and kidnappers.  

Then in 1981, a little boy by the name of Adam Walsh was abducted while he was alone in the toy section of a Sears department store. The authorities later discovered his body and that he had been decapitated (I was 9 at the time, and horrified to learn that he had been found without his head.) A couple of years later, a TV movie about Adam's disappearance and murder was broadcast and suddenly, the world became a very sinister place, and the movement known as "Stranger Danger" was formed.

Suddenly, and with good reason, kids had to be taught to be more streetwise with adults that they did not know. The program has come under criticism because it fails to teach kids that most child abductors and molesters are often someone that the child actually knows.


Needless to say, this is serious business...until I came across the following video clip, which appears to be from the late 80s or early 90s. It is not supposed to be funny but I can't help it--it simply is. I defy anyone to watch it and keep a straight face. Whoever did the casting brought together a great collection of dorky actors who look like social deviants--except for the battery girl towards the beginning, who many male viewers on YouTube said was hot and that they would follow her anyday. And the dude threatening that he would kill the boy's dog if he told anyone--intense!



Do you remember being taught Stranger Danger growing up?

7 comments:

Choleesa said...

I do remember Stranger Danger...
I remember the Adam Walsh movie also...scared the bejesus out of me!!
And those actors.....scary.

ApacheDug said...

My parents must've given me the "don't talk to strangers" lecture a thousand times growing up--but if Jackie the Ripper (that hottie in the white top) had asked the kid version of ME to help change her batteries, I would've jumped at the chance like a fool!

The big scare in my era was Mister Yuk--he was mean, but he was green :)

Ruth said...

I can't believe the cast a pizza delivery boy as an authority figure...
Creepy

JZ said...

The BBC had a report on the World Service the other day. They were saying parents keep the kids inside more nowadays. This has led to a loss of socialization skills with some young kids. Part of it is the PC, but a lot of parents were uncomfortable letting their kids out due to the "Stranger Danger" issues. I can't blame any parent for wanting to keep their child on a short leash nowadays...you can't even go to a movie anymore without taking your life into your own hands. I'm sure it effects the kids as they grow up though.

Luis said...

As a a non-USA resident I can say that Americans are VERY paranoid. The message in the video is pretty much "NEVER talk to any adult, no matter what". Now this may be erring on the side of caution but it also makes kids afraid of their own shadow and prefer to stay in the house all the time.
I live in Mexico, where there is plenty of violence, but even so kids still play outside and parents aren't fretting over where they are 24/7. All in all I'm glad I was a kid in another era when these problems where a non-issue.
By the way, I too would have gone with the blonde in the tank top without a second thought.

Pam@GoRetro said...

Thanks for the comments, guys! I do agree that Americans tend to be more paranoid than other countries when it comes to staying safe, but sometimes we have good reason to be. There's been many cases in New England over the past decade or so of children who were abducted and/or murdered by people that they did NOT know. Granted, the media loves to run with these stories, but better safe than sorry. I once had a man in a trench coat attempt to open my car door while I was parked at a gas station. When I cracked my window he said he wanted a ride; I screamed and told him to "get the f*** away from me."

The two women in this video look so out of place; while you cannot rule it out, when's the last time you heard of a middle aged woman or hot young chick kidnapping a kid? But it happens--look at that girl they found after so many years who had been taken by that creepy couple and had two daughters by the monster who abducted her.

Anonymous said...

In England, there were the Brady/Hindley child murders of the 1960s and so I was always told to beware as kid in the early 1970s.

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