A YouTube personality decided to put some parents' convictions to the test by creating that exact scenario as part of a social experiment. The shocking video has become a warning for parents.
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Joeysalads, a prankster whose videos are usually humorous, decided to engineer this social experiment not as a joke, but as a tough reminder. He wants parents to talk to their kids about stranger danger.
In the video, Joey introduces himself to a mother on a park bench watching her child play. He asks the mother if she thinks her child would leave the park with a stranger. The mother replies no, the child knows better. Joey then gets her permission to test that.
Armed with a puppy, Joey befriends the child the same way a predator might. He then asks the kid to leave with him under the guise of introducing his other puppies.
Joey does the experiment three times, and each time the outcome is the same: The shocked mother, who swore her child would never leave with a stranger, watches as each child holds hands and walks away with a man they just met.
"That was a little unexpected," Joey told ABC News of the results of his experiment. "Sometimes kids are just too young to comprehend the dangers out there."
ABC News conducted a similar experiment in 2005. In that case, children were willing to leave the park when only shown a photo of a dog.
Cute animals are a common tool for abductors, ABC News reports. An estimated 460,000 children were abducted last year.
Experts say parents should not assume children understand that only certain adults should be trusted. They also recommended telling your child to kick and scream if a stranger tries to make them go somewhere.
The video seems to be succeeding in its goal of raising awareness. It has more than 30 million views on Facebook.