Saturday, March 12, 2016

Skeptical Saturday: Lost Children as Lure For Rape?

I saw this breathless warning about a "new 'gang' way of rape" (using a lost child as bait) pop up on my Facebook feed. Maybe you've seen it, too.

First of all, the awkward scare quotes around "gang" make it sound like your elderly aunt inquiring what these "gang bangs" are that she keeps hearing about.

Second of all, this isn't happening. Snopes confirms.
We scoured recent news stories in the U.S. looking for articles about such an assault and were unable to find any. If such a method of luring rape victims to their attackers had been used in one instance (and we've little reason to believe that it has), there has certainly not been a rash of small children pretending to be lost as part of a scheme to place women in jeopardy. 
 But are you ready for some fun facts? I knew you were.

I think it's fascinating how long we've been recycling some urban myths. Snopes pins this one to the 80s, in a story set immediately after WWII:
The tip-off about rapists using small children to ensnare women in their traps very closely fits an urban legend set in World War II that we know to have been around since at least 1985, the venerable Letter of Intent, wherein young women are impelled through their sense of compassion to hand-deliver a letter on behalf of a blind man and by so doing deliver themselves up for butchery.
Which in turn might well be connected to good ol' fashioned blood libel, some of the oldest anti-Semitic propaganda around.

The world is not full of psychopaths waiting to punish you for your good intent, so sleep easy.


  1. I hate when people spread these fake things around! Like, you wanna be a good person and share things that will keep your friends safe, but LIES! ALL LIES!

    1. What makes it even worse is that these breathless baseless warnings are usually *originally* shared just to generate a lot of sort of viral-ness for some commercial page or other. So it's not started by people ignorant but well-intentioned, but (these days) by people exploiting other people's good will and concern to make a buck. Gross AF. >:C

  2. Well, I'm glad you've warned us on how the picture is false! All these crazy things show up on the internet haha.

    But that tidbit about WWII is really interesting! I've never heard of that, and it seems pretty creepy. I know sometimes beggers will make children help them beg, especially in poorer countries, but to make them lure rape victims? That's pretty extreme.

    - Aila @ Happy Indulgences

    1. Yeah, misinformation like this makes it harder to tackle situations when children *are* exploited or abused in real life. =/