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The Story Behind This Book
Held at a popular local playground, twenty-four children (ages 2-8) and their parents attended.
An adult unknown to the children would simply walk up to them, take their hand and lead them away toward the parking lot. If the child asked where they were going, the 'stranger' would simply tell them there was some candy in the car, and that the child could have some if they wanted it. When they reached the car, (in full view of the playground and parents) the 'stranger' would simply tell the child that they ran out of candy, show them an empty candy bag, and return the child to the playground. If at any time the child resisted or became frightened, the 'stranger' would immediately let go and move away.
The parents were to stay on the sidelines and observe, agreeing to not punish their child if indeed they did walk away with one of the 'strangers'. This was to be a teachable moment - one that children, parents, and teachers would all discuss together at the end of the day. While many of the parents commented they didn't think their child would ever walk away with someone they didn't know, all agreed to allow their child to participate.
Both were teachers in another programme and unknown to the children or their parents.
Over the course of an afternoon, 11 children accompanied a 'stranger' to the car - with no resistance, not even a glance back over their shoulder. They simply held hands and walked away - for nothing more than the promise of candy. Of the remaining children, only one became visibly frightened and was immediately returned to their parent. The others simply pulled their hand away and ran off to play with their friends. Only four of them reported the 'stranger' to a teacher or parent.
This experiment really opened my eyes about how young children view strangers, and why Stranger Danger Programmes often fail.
Always a reader, Kristi Porter never thought much about writing until she entered a writing contest sponsored by the Detroit Free Press. Her nightmare vacation story - The Worst Vacation Ever - went on to be published worldwide in an anthology. This was followed by numerous articles published in local magazines and newspapers. As her love of writing grew, she added adult fiction and short humor pieces to her repertoire. But writing isn't all Kristi does. A preschool teacher, she won the Governor's Award for her work with young children and is dedicated to the education of young children. She also enjoys bicycling, video games, photography, Facebook, and spending time with family. She lives in Michigan with her husband, son, and a menagerie of cats.