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The shocking results of a social experiment carried out by the TODAY Show will highlight the need for more stranger danger awareness.

It’s a frightening reminder of how trusting children can be and real life proof of how how quickly a child can disappear with a complete stranger.

Former Queensland police officer Brett Lee spent 22 years arresting child predators.

For the experiment, he filled his pockets with chocolates and toys and headed to a nearby park to test how children would react to a stranger.

“It’s low probability but high consequence, so it’s something we always have to be very vigilant about knowing that it is possible,” he told the TODAY Show.

In the experiment, Brett approached 8 children and offered them chocolate. All but one of the kids took something.

In the experiment, Brett approached the children and told them he needed help to find a lost puppy.

Their response was frightening – seven of the eight children walked off with Brett, out of the sight of their parents.

Mothers witnessing the experiment were horrified.

Police say parents should start stranger danger talks as soon as they can understand the meaning of good and bad.

Former officer Brett Lee recommends not using the word ‘stranger’ – instead talking to your children about ‘trusted’ and ‘non-trusted’ people.

“It’s very easy to explain a trusted adult and that is someone who is in our life that we know and feel comfortable with. Everyone else becomes a non trusted person,” he told the TODAY Show.

“Teach you children to only take gifts or leave a place with a ‘trusted’ person. If they’re approached by anyone else, the rule is to run straight to mum or dad and tell them,” he said.

It is concerning that many childcare centres and schools have stopped sharing the stranger danger message for fear of frightening young children.

Do you teach your children about stranger danger?

Share your comments below

  • We go through this often with our Punks, one of them is super shy and wouldn’t speak to an unknown adult anyway but the other is chatty and has no stranger danger — she’s our little worry! Just have to keep drumming it into them!

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  • This brought back memories of what happened to me when I was about 5. I was with my cousin and a man asked us to help him find his puppy. He sent my cousin in one direction and took me with him. Needless to say I’ve been wary of people I don’t know, even after all these years. I made sure that my boys and my grandchildren all know about not going with people they don’t know.

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  • It doesn’t surprise me as I’ve seen similar experiments like this on tv before. It does however, make me terribly anxious and upset to know how easily a stranger can fool a child. I guess we just have to keep educating the kids and supervise carefully.

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  • My goodness, this makes me feel so sick. I have taught stranger danger to all my kids but God forbid, they never will be in such a situation.

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  • I’ve seen experiments like these before and they are quite frightening. As parents, we think we’re teaching the right message, etc. only to view an experiment like this that is really confronting and makes us question what we’ve taught. They’re all new teaching moments.

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  • My eldest son walks home from school on his own, It is only a short distance. He has a list of 4 people that he is allowed to get into the car with. Even if he knows somebody else he still can’t get into their car without it being prearranged, so that he doesn’t get confused.

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  • Children are very trusting so these sort of things should be pointed out to them that they can’t trust anyone and they should check with mum before going anywhere,

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  • Very scary times indeed and awareness campaigns should start at schools too

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  • That is so scary! Children are so trusting, I will definitely be taking Brett’s advice

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  • Aw so scary ! My youngest is 4,5yr and has Down syndrome. She has no stranger danger (or any danger awareness) at all and claps her hands then spreads her arms to get hugged by literally everyone. She’s beautiful, yet very scary in this. I can only keep her close and hope and pray that nothing goes wrong ever !

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  • I saw an article yesterday saying to loudly and clearly shout that your child is missing but close by and describe in as much detail as possible what they look like and what they’re wearing if you lose them in public. Get as many people in on the search as you can and if someone has taken them they won’t risk being caught and will just leave them and walk away. It was a really good article.

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  • My kids really do struggle with this concept. We talk about tricky people.

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  • This story was only published today but when I clicked on the TODAY show link this came up This page isn’t available
    The link you followed may be broken, or the page may have been removed .
    Grrrr I really wanted to see more.
    Brett Lee made the comment about trusted and non trusted people but may I also point out that family members and friends can abuse as well.
    Stranger danger is a very difficult issue.


    • It must have been just a temporary problem with the video. I saw it yesterday without any problem, and if I click it now, I can still see it.

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  • Oh my. Just one kid went to look for his mum! That’s really scary. Yes, chocolate, lollies, talking about pets.. that’s how you gain a kid’s trust. Important to constantly talk to our kids about all the dangers out there.

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  • Scary but goes to show we need to always be waThing our Children

    Reply

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