Oprah shows how kids can be lured to danger

September 27, 1993|By Wayne Hardin | Wayne Hardin,Staff Writer

"Teach your children how to protect themselves," the topic of Oprah Winfrey's show today, is so important to her that she begs parents to watch, says her spokeswoman.

The show, airing at 4 p.m. on WMAR (Channel 2), features segments that demonstrate how easily a stranger can lure children from parents, and how adults can be drawn willingly into dangerous situations.

These lures require no weapons, only the power of persuasion, says Kenneth Wooden, child safety authority and author of "Child Lures Safety Guide" during a telephone interview. The biggest lure of all, he says, is "fake love and affection."

Hidden cameras filmed a parent on a Chicago playground talking to an Oprah producer about child safety. Behind her, Mr. Wooden, carrying a dog leash and a picture of a puppy, goes up to a child on a swing.

"Please help me find my puppy," he implores. In 33 seconds, the 3-year-old girl follows him out of the park. Her mother was unaware of the incident.

In a Chicago mall, he uses some of the 10 lures he identifies in his book. Teen-agers and adults prove just as vulnerable to them:

Posing as a public television producer, he convinces people to do sound bites in a parked van. As a security guard, he entices people outside by saying someone is stealing their car.

"If I was bad news, you'd be history," he tells a young woman in revealing his true identity.

To critics who say that talking about the lures teaches them to potential molesters, he responds:

"Molesters already know the lures. People need to know what they are for a good defense."

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