What you need to know about 'stranger danger'

Posted at 6:20 PM, Apr 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-04 07:25:27-04

A Lee County community remains on high alert as deputies investigate a report of a teen claiming a man tried to abduct her and a friend over the weekend near a popular park in Gateway.

One of the alleged victims claims a man tried to lure her and her friends into his car on Griffin Drive near the Sherman Soccer Complex. This is the third suspicious incident reported in Lee County in the last few weeks.

Stacey Payne with the Lee County Sheriff's Office tells Four In Your Corner that the majority of abductions or "stranger danger" cases aren't done by strangers at all.

"Overall, the cases involving child abductions or anything like that aren't done by strangers, they're actually done by family members or people they know," Payne said.

She says it's important to know the tactics a person may use to entice a child and share that with children early and often so they're made aware.

"Candy, money, lost dog, lost puppy...where's McDonald's? We hear it all," Payne said. "These are ways strangers get kids to talk to them."

If you follow the The Lee County Sheriff's Office Facebook page you may have seen a recent post of a man attempting to lure a child into his car just a few days ago. The Sheriff's Office sends out push alerts on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter after detectives investigate an alleged crime, but it's done on a case by case basis.

"Sometimes from just talking to the kids we know it may not necessarily be true," Payne said. "Their story is contradicting itself and often times when that's the case it's because they were supposed to go home after school or whatever may be they didn't so they want to make up a story so they don't get in trouble."

Other times you don't know so the Sheriff's Office takes all cases seriously and encourages people to report any and all incidents because it may help with other cases.

"One person saw something and called it in and it was just the information we needed to add to somebody else's report. Maybe it's a description of a person and the other is a description of the vehicle. Now we can put the two together."

Here are tips from the Lee County Sheriff's Office

Who is a stranger?

It’s easy for children to think that only scary looking strangers are bad; however, they need to know that even pretty strangers can be dangerous. Explain that a stranger is anyone they do not know, no matter what they look like.

Do not talk to a stranger.

Children need to know that it is o.k. to ignore a stranger’s attempts to talk to them. Encourage them to trust their instincts and if they are being followed or something is not right, get help immediately or run somewhere safe. 

Never approach a stranger’s car.

Strangers may ask for directions or try to entice a child to get in their car using various schemes. To keep from being grabbed and placed in the car, children should be taught to always stay more than an arm’s reach from a vehicle.

Run, kick, scream.

Teach your children to be assertive, and if necessary use whatever means necessary to run away from trouble to get help. You can practice different role-playing situations at home to build confidence in your child.

Encourage children to use the buddy system.

Whenever possible, don’t go it alone. Play or ride bikes with a friend – it’s not only safer, it’s a whole lot more fun.

It is important that adults equip children with the appropriate knowledge and reliable strategies to keep them safe should they ever find themselves face to face in a stranger danger scenario.  For more information regarding this topic, or to have a representative from the Sheriff’s Office talk to students at your school, church or community organization, call the Community Relations Unit at 258-3280. To report a fraud or a scam, call the fraud line at 258-3292 or email at