Driving home after a day at work, I found a text that I missed and it read, “Mommy, I’m so scared!” I had been in meetings all day and hadn’t checked my messages, and what I read disturbed me. Immediately I phoned home to see what had panicked my 13-year-old.
My girls had spent the day shopping at the mall with Grandma. Innocently strolling to the restroom, my youngest was approached in the mall by a research company representative. Cheerful and kind ( and probably no more than 20), she came up to my daughter and asked her age and if she would go in a store, watch a movie trailer and give her opinion in a survey. My daughter apprehensively asked, “Well, don’t my parents need to be here?” The rep assured her that parental approval was unnecessary and proceeded to tell her it would only take about five minutes.
My daughter, having the tender heart that she does, did not want to be “mean” or rude, and she complied. But after a 96-question survey on the PG13 movie trailer Taken 2, she was disturbed enough that she didn’t eat dinner that night. I too was disturbed that this was the movie being shown. The first Taken had some pretty scary content about the main character’s daughter being kidnapped and thrown into white slavery!
I instantly called mall security and was told, that if parents drop their children off they can be approached by anyone. That is not acceptable. The next morning I decided the best thing to do was to contact the police.
First, I wanted to make a complaint that my daughter had been approached and emphasized that any minor walking through the mall should not be approached and led into a store, especially when unaccompanied by an adult. My second intent was to get the police involved in educating mall security and store personnel on keeping our children safe.
I did have a conversation with my daughter about going against not only what she has been taught about strangers but also her instincts. She knew that it was wrong for a stranger to ask her personal information, like her age, phone number and address. She knew that her parents should know about it. She knew it was wrong to go with a stranger, but she did it anyway because of her innocence and eagerness to please. Unfortunately, it was a tearful, emotional day for her. She felt ashamed and stupid. I disagree. The adults who allow this to happen should be ashamed. As we told our daughter, it’s okay to be kind, but be smart first.
– Debbie Bruemmer