Winnipeg girl's stranger knowledge put to the test
Published Thursday, February 25, 2016 6:02PM CST Last Updated Thursday, February 25, 2016 7:21PM CST
While not common in Canada, stranger abductions do happen.
Child predators can be manipulative and gain a kid’s trust.
A Winnipeg mom teamed up with a private investigator to find out how her daughter would handle a potentially dangerous situation involving a stranger.
Jackie Lane often talks to her daughter about strangers.
Callie Lane, 10, has been taught never to get into a stranger's car or go anywhere without her parents’ permission.
Jackie wanted to be sure her daughter knows what to do.
"Even our area is generally safe but you just never know what's going to happen," said Jackie.
She agreed to allow a private investigator to approach Callie, pretending to be a stranger.
It was all part a test scenario to see how Callie would react.
The entire exchange was captured on hidden camera as Jackie watched from inside a nearby vehicle.
"I was like super nervous,” said Jackie. “My stomach was in knots."
The scenario takes place in a residential neighbourhood in Winnipeg’s south end.
The investigator, a woman, approaches Callie on her way home for lunch and starts a conversation.
"I'm a talent agent, I'm looking for kids,” said the investigator. “Do you know kids, models that are into that type of thing?"
Callie then tells the investigator she’s an actor, the investigator continues talking to Callie.
"Can I give you a business card,” the investigator said. “I just forgot them in my car.”
As soon as the investigator mentions the car, Callie politely tries to talk herself out of the situation.
"I'm sorry but I don't really know you,” said Callie. “(It) wouldn't be safe going in someone else's car.”
“You don't have to get into the car. I just want to give you a business card. I just forgot them."
Callie doesn't go with the stranger.
At this point, a nearby resident steps in – a person who saw what was happening but had no idea it was a test.
The investigator explains to the resident it’s just a test and commends the neighbour for intervening.
At that point, the test came to an end and Jackie shows up to get her daughter and gives her a hug.
"It was really, really nerve-wracking,” Callie told CTV News shortly after the scenario came to an end. “They're coming up to me with something they really want to know and it scared me, you could see the shock in my face."
Independent Investigators has now run the same scenario six times with six different families. Four of those times the child was actually about to get into the stranger's car and that's when the test came to an end.
While not common in Canada, child abductions by strangers do happen.
According to the latest stats, there was one report of a child abducted by a stranger in Manitoba in 2014, across Canada there were 29 incidents reported.
"They're rare but they're dangerous,” said Noni Classen with the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. “The outcome can be very concerning.
Classen said it's important children are taught what to do should the situation actually happen.
She said child predators can be manipulative to gain trust and kids need to know it's okay to say no.
"Regardless of what excuse is given or the reason, that they don't go with anyone unless they first check with their parents or guardians or the adult in charge to make that decision whether or not they can go," said Classen.
The Winnipeg Police Service said it receives several reports each year about suspicious people or circumstances.
Const. Jason Michalyshen said while strangers abductions are rare, police still encourage the public to report suspicious activity when something doesn’t seem “quite right.”
“It’s important that those incidents be reported to police every single time,” said Const. Michalyshen. “As we receive further information we might start linking certain incidents together and it could turn into something more where we have to make notifications to the public with as much information as we can with respect to a suspect or suspect vehicle.”
Proud of her daughter for doing the right thing, Jackie said going through the scenario was a valuable experience.
"Watching that all unfold was really great,” said Jackie. “When I heard (Callie) say 'no I can't do it,' it was just a sigh of relief."
Callie said she learned a lot.
"Now I know anytime a stranger comes up to you – even though I already know – now you have the lesson if a stranger comes up to you, you already know what to do."