YouTube user Joey Saladino recently uploaded his newest video, “Child Abduction (Social Experiment),” which has drawn over three million views in the three days since its debut.
In the video, Saladino approaches parents and asks them if their child knows not to talk to strangers.
After obtaining their consent, he goes to each child and shows them his puppy, before leading them away to “go see my other puppies.”
Saladino’s video inspired parents to share the video like wildfire, seemingly proving that the world is an unsafe place and children need to be educated.
— NICO PANAGIO (@NicoPanagio) May 4, 2015
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As well-intentioned as Saladino may or may not be, his video distorts the issue of child abduction, while ignoring one of the most crucial facts about it.
The vast majority of child abductions are not done by strangers, but by acquaintances, such as an estranged parent or relative. According to The Washington Post, abductions by strangers or slight acquaintances represents one one-hundredth of 1 percent of all missing children.
Saladino says over 700 children are abducted per day, or 255,000 a year. But the most recent statistics show that 115 children were abducted by strangers over an entire year, a far cry from 700 a day.
“If 700 kids actually were taken by strangers on a daily basis, that would be closing in on 1% of all kids under age 9. So if you sent your kid to a grammar school with 500 kids, by fifth grade your child would have witnessed 25 kids — a classroom full — kidnapped the way they are on Law & Order.”
“But this scary, misleading message just seems to be one that everyone loves to share, as if it’s a public service. As if kids already have way too much unsupervised time outside.”
No one is saying your kids shouldn’t be taught to be cautious around strangers. But Saladino’s experiment only proves that three specific children so young that no reasonable parent would leave them unattended for an extended period of time were susceptible to the allure of a cute puppy.
It’s a story that’s built to be shared on Facebook by concerned moms whose worst fears about their children are confirmed. But Joey Salad’s “social experiment” ignores the reality of the world we live in.
We reached out to Saladino for comment via Twitter, and we’ll update this post if he responds.