I know this happens all the time, and I may have come close to this kind of stranger danger as well, on occasion. For example, just yesterday, I was at Starbuck's with my family, I was at the counter waiting for my turn to pay and my two kids were sitting at a table a little further away from me and when I looked over there one of the times, there was a man talking up a storm discussing the Miami Heat. When I realized it, he was talking to MY kids! My 6-year old was of course totaling engaging in this conversation and arguing his points, as he always does, but my 10-year old had her back turned to him and was only nodding yes or no to some questions. I know she was making every effort to maintain the rule of not talking to strangers, which for that, I am proud of her. My son, well, I still have a LOT of teaching to do on that topic.
It turns out the guy was the security guard there at Starbuck's or the whole shopping center (with a badge,) but in my opinion, and like I tell my kids, badge or not, security or not, he should NOT have been engaging in a conversation with two children who were in the eyes of the public, sitting alone! He kept asking them questions, telling them how smart they were etc...
As this was going on, I was in a huge line and I interrupted the cashier and asked her if he was really the security guard there. "Yes," she said. "Well, I said, he is interrogating and talking up a storm with my kids, not cool." When I finished, I said to the man, "If they are being rude to you or not answering you, it is because I tell them not to talk to strangers." He said, "Oh, yea that's very smart," as he showed them his badge trying to justify that it was okay to speak with him. And once again, I tell my children, I don't care how nice they are, what they show you, what they offer you, you NEVER go with anyone for any reason unless one of your parents have indicated to do so. It is a tough line to draw between your kids being polite when a random person says hello or ignoring a stranger. Honestly, I rather my kids IGNORE the stranger and be safe and alive!
Here is the heart-breaking story below. Please people, do not let your kids talk or go with a stranger ever!
Charish Lilly Perriwinkle Body Found: Donald James Smith Arrested In 8-Year-Old Girl's Abduction
UPDATE: Initial reports suggested that Charish Perriwinkle's mother allowed her daughter to go to McDonald's with Donald James Smith. The mother has now told Action News Jax that she did not realize Smith left with the girl.
Perriwinkle was abducted from a Walmart in Jacksonville at around 11 p.m. Friday.
Donald James Smith, a registered sex offender, has been arrested and charged with murder, according to Action News Jax.
Police have not commented on the cause of Perriwinkle's death.
The girl's mother, Rayne Perriwinkle, told Action News Jax that she and her daughter met Smith Friday evening at a dollar store. Her two other children, ages 4 and 5, were also with her, according to Jacksonville.com.
Smith overheard the mother saying she couldn't afford to buy her daughter a dress, and offered to help her out. She says Smith told her his wife had a Walmart gift card, and could meet them at Walmart and use the card to buy items for the family.
They headed to the Walmart in Smith's van. Once there, Perriwinkle says Smith kept insisting they were waiting for his wife. At one point, he said he was heading to the store's McDonald's. The mother says she did not realize her daughter was going with him.
"He asked if I wanted anything and I heard Cherish say 'cheeseburger.' I thought she stayed near me. I didn't realize she went with him. I didn't let her go with him like people think," the mother told the station.
Smith, 56, was previously convicted of attempted kidnapping and lewd and lascivious assault on children. Police tracked down Smith's van driving on I-95 in Jacksonville at around 9 a.m. Saturday. They have not said whether or not Smith led them to the girl's body.
Rayne Perriwinkle's two younger children were unharmed and remain in her custody.