Child Predator Alert was Paranoia; Police Called After Man Asks Kids Where to Find Tree Swing


Kids aren't supposed to talk to strangers. And, these days, apparently, strangers aren't supposed to talk to kids.

According to media reports today, a guy who asked a few kids some questions about tree swings -- prompting police involvement -- was actually interested in tree swings. Go figure.

Initial coverage of the "child predator" painted a scary portrait of a perv on a bike who was attracting tykes like the Pied Piper until scared off -- and, in one case, followed -- by nervous moms. Creepily, the "predator" used the notion of building a swing to entice the tots.

Then a woman returned home from an outing and realized the cops had been warning the neighborhood about her husband, who had expressed interest in building a tree swing.

Though this story says something about the paranoia of our modern era, the children were very young -- some concern would be warranted if you saw an adult leading 4- and 5-year-olds away from their home. On the other hand, the reports make it appear that the parents in each case didn't have a close eye on their kids, at least at first.

Pulling up a chair in the front yard to watch the kids play and meet the neighbors, some of whom may want to actually do good, seems like the way to prevent this kind of thing.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.

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