Thursday, June 10, 2010

Why You Don’t Accept Rides From Strangers

I’m guessing this girl didn’t get that safety talk from her parents…
John William Sinnett 
Photo: NBC Washington

Man, 85, charged with abducting teen (

June 10, 2010 12:35 am
A Fredericksburg teenager said she saw no reason to be alarmed March 29 when she accepted a ride home from an 85-year-old stranger. 
Before the 11/2-mile ride was over, the young woman testified yesterday in Fredericksburg Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, she was "freaking out." 
She said the elderly driver touched her breast and made numerous sexually suggestive comments during the short ride. 
John William Sinnett, 85, of Spotsylvania is charged with abduction with the intent to defile. The charge, which carries a possible life sentence, was sent to a city grand jury following a preliminary hearing yesterday. 
According to the evidence presented by Commonwealth's Attorney LaBravia Jenkins, the girl was walking home from James Monroe High School about 11:30 a.m. when Sinnett pulled up on Fall Hill Avenue. 
Sinnett had been in the Rappahannock Regional Jail's electronic incarceration program since July, when he got a 12-month jail sentence for sexually assaulting a 21-year-old woman in Spotsylvania.
I’d suggest you read the whole thing for more context.


What should you teach your children about “stranger danger?”

Lessons that everyone should teach children (and this young lady seems to have the naiveté of a child, despite her legal age) include:
  1. Never, ever, ever accept rides from someone, unless it’s cleared with your parents FIRST. In cases where a victim is transported, the chances of survival are reduced. In other words, don’t accept rides from strangers.
  2. Make sure they have a cell phone or some means to call for help. Dialing 9-1-1 should be a rehearsed action.
  3. As a parent or guardian, cover this information, then drill it by asking “What would you do if ____ happens?” Do it at random times. Ask questions like, “Would this be normal?” or, “Would it be OK if…” Read the newspaper or follow the news and use examples of attempted abductions to as teaching moments. Discuss what the “victim” did right, and could have done better. Ask them to be aware of the potential of these things happening, and to not deny it – accept what’s happening is real, and ACT!
  4. Teach that it’s OK to resist and talk back to adults. We ingrain in our children to be polite and proper, but not to scream and run, or be firm and forceful. Teach it!
  5. Teach your child that it’s critical to always know where he is. That his or safety is the most important thing. Drill and enforce daily schedules.
  6. Explain the safety of groups – the predator wants to avoid one thing: attention. A target is isolated and/or unaware. The sheer numbers of a group makes avoiding attention impossible for a child predator, so use that tactic.
There are many more excellent safety tips and information available on the Web. A great tip sheet can be found on the Elmira Police Department’s site here (good job). More resources:

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
FBI Publications - A Parent's Guide to Internet Safety

If you have other resources or tips, please comment. Thanks!

1 comment:

John W. Zimmer said...

All excellent points Nathan! I love the point about questioning authority. I have a step-daughter that always conforms to authority (her dad was strict that way) and I've been praying she never gets into a bad situation. So far she has made it to college ok but it is tough to know that because of her temperament and upbringing - she is ill equipped for adversity.