STRANGER DANGER: Would your child go with someone they don't kno - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

STRANGER DANGER: Would your child go with someone they don't know?

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

A parent's nightmare comes true as they watch their children go with someone they don't know.

In a partnership with the Waterloo Police Department, and with the consent of the parents, KWWL performed a social experiment to see if a child would really go with a stranger.

While undercover police officers lured their children away, mothers watched from across the street. The mothers KWWL talked with were confident they taught their children what to do if a stranger approached them. They've taught them to scream and run away, but they didn't know how their child would truly react if they were ever confronted by a stranger...until now.

"I told them they are not allowed to talk to people they don't know, they are not allowed to talk to strangers," said Janel Speck, Waterloo.

But what happens when your child is confronted by a stranger?

"I hope he's not going to go with him, but honestly you never know," said Speck.

"I pray they do what I taught them to do, but they are also three, so sometimes you have to drill that into their heads a thousand times and pray for the best," said Trinity Rogers, Waterloo.

With the permission from both Speck and Rogers and the help of the Waterloo Police Department, undercover officers used a dog to entice their children as they watched nearby.

"I am nervous, because if it were real, I sure hope he'd do what we've talk to him about," said Speck, anxiously waiting as a woman approached her nine-year-old, Ethan.

"Hey do you think you can do me a favor?" said the "stranger" to Ethan. "I am trying to get her (my dog) to get something to drink because it's hot...my kids are really good at getting her to drink, but sometimes she gets really crazy around me, would you help me get her some water?"

And Ethan responds, "Yeah."

Meantime, his mother watches nearby, "Ahhh, I think he's going with her," said Speck. "It makes me kind of sick to my stomach, it's not a good feeling to watch your kid walk away with a stranger in less than five minutes."

Ethan even told his brother, who he was having a catch with, that he was leaving with the woman.

When mother and son were reunited Speck asked, "Ethan where did you go?"

Ethan responded, "I went with her because she asked me if I wanted to help her get her dog to drink water."

"But do you know her?" said Speck. Ethan said he didn't know the woman. 

His mother responded, "Should you have went with her? What could have happened if you did?" 

Ethan says he could have been taken if it was a real stranger that approached him.

Meanwhile, Trinity Rogers' twin girls were with their aunt playing at the park when she got a phone call and glanced away.

A "stranger" approached the girls saying,"Hey, have you seen this dog around here?"

Within seconds, as their mom looked on from across the street, Rogers' daughters, Jurnee and London went with the "stranger".

"Oh my gosh, that's awesome," said Rogers as she watched her daughters walk away with the "stranger". "I mean, you try to teach them, but you know that they are little and they trust everybody, all little kids do, so guess we are going to have to drill that in a little more."

An eye opening experience for a soon to be mother of four.

"Are you supposed to go with strangers?" said Rogers to her daughters. 

"No," responded the girls. 

"How come you went with him?" said the concerned mother.

 "Because we had to find his puppy?" said the girls innocently.

A lesson learned, thankfully at the hands of the Waterloo Police Department and not during a real situation. 

"As quick as it happened I could be watching my daughters and take my eyes off of them for five minutes and turn around and not know where they are," said Speck.

"It's very scary, because you want to protect your children and the reality is that we do get distracted by phones or our other children ...you can't take your eyes off them for a second and you have to really drill into their little minds that there are dangerous people out there," said Rogers.

The stranger danger talk is something police say should be given repeatedly.

"This is not a one-time conversation, this is something to talk about over and over," said Stacy Hesse, Waterloo Police investigator. "We look both ways before crossing the street, we put on our seat belt when we get in the car and we talk to mom before we go with any adults." 

A terrifying experiment, turning into a valuable lesson.

"If this was a real experience they'd be gone already, they'd already be gone in a car and it only took a few seconds," said Rogers.

Waterloo Police say you don't truly know if someone means harm by simply looking at them. So warn your child, if anyone makes them feel uncomfortable, scared, or wants them to keep a secret, always tell a parent or family member.

Waterloo police urge Iowans to constantly talk to their children about strangers. For more information on some talking points CLICK HERE.

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