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Emotional Support Group Meetings 2020 (Phone only)

General News

Ye Olde Ikea Sex Traffickers


We are in the midst of a massive mommy moral panic. Across the country, mothers are writing breathless accounts on Facebook of how sex traffickers nearly snatched their children at Target/Ikea/the grocery store.

While at Sam’s Club, one such post explains, “a man came up to us and asked if the empty cart nearby was ours.…He was an African American with a shaved head.…It seemed like an innocent encounter.” Innocent, that is, until the mom and kids headed to Walmart and there was the guy again, “feverishly texting on his phone but not taking his eye off my daughter.”

It could only mean one thing, she wrote: “I have absolutely NO doubt that that man is a trafficker looking for young girls to steal and sell.”

And I have absolutely no doubt that she’s wrong. This is what security expert Bruce Schneier has dubbed a “movie plot threat”—a narrative that looks suspiciously like what you’d see at the Cineplex. The more “movie plot” a situation seems, the less likely it is to be real.


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  1. kat

    Mommy Moral Panic…I love it…That’s exactly what it is.
    I see so many parents engaged with their IPhones instead of with their children. “If” they happen to glance up and see someone looking their way or at their child, paranoia sets in, it’s nuts.

  2. AJ

    When yet another post from another mom took off in Denver, local news outlets had to run stories reassuring parents that there had been no legitimate sex trafficking reports in the area. The Littleton Independent also informed people that an earlier story about a man “kidnapping” a child in front of the local library turned out to be about a guy moving a stroller out of the way so he could get to his car.
    Too funny, but also incredibly sad. A person cannot even move someone’s else crap out of the way to go on with their own life? Perhaps if one of the hystericals who witnessed this “kidnapping” had stepped in, they would have gotten the answer and truth right away. But no, it’s much easier and fun to sit back and create a narrative that confirms unfounded fears. And think if it actually had been a kidnapping. From the sounds of it, nobody stepped up to stop what they thought was a child being abducted. If they had, it wouldn’t have been a story for the newspaper to correct.
    Had Finkelhor heard of a single case where a child was taken from a parent in public and forced into the sex trade? No. Because it’s not happening. Actual traffickers build relationships with the young people they go on to exploit, usually troubled or runaway teens. No one is spiriting 2-year-olds from Target.
    Just like the Halloween horror stories, this is yet another urban legend and/or trumped up hysteria.
    The comments below the article are well worth reading, too. 🙂

  3. Eric

    It appears that the Amber alert freeway signs that send everyone into an SO alert frenzy are about 100% of the time child custody cases.

    • AJ

      According to the Feds (, 26% of the time it was a “NFA” (Non Family Abduction, i.e. someone not related to the kid) in 2015, 32% in 2014, 32% in 2013, and 37% in 2012. The numbers are trending down on “Stranger Danger.” The same data shows consistent increases in the “FA” (i.e. related to the kid) events. So it’s not quite that 100% tossed out, but as of the latest data, 3/4 the time it’s NOT a non-family member.

      • FM No Static At All

        Just part of the reason I have turned off Amber Alert notifications on my phone.

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