Victimization in the Name of Protection

22 Aug
August 22, 2015

This video came out a couple weeks ago and has been tearing up the social media sites. Tens of millions of views, it is a bona fide viral hit. People are raving about how it is a must see, it is so good, etc.

I disagree.

It does make a good point, that kids are more likely to make unsafe decisions than we realize. That’s a reality I have been confronted with over and over as a youth worker; parents have no problem believing that adolescents will make unsafe decisions online, with friends, regarding drugs or alcohol, with strangers – the list goes on. What consistently catches parents off guard is that THEIR kids are the ones who will make unsafe decisions. As a nation, we’ve been educating minors about these kinds of dangers for decades, and the reality is that because of greater care we take in protecting children has resulted in those kinds of crime rates going down over the last few decades (while fear has gone up thanks to the introduction of 24 hour news media). Part of me feels like the usefulness of this video is more as a wake-up call for parents, not the kids living in their houses.

But baiting teens to come out and meet someone, only to be screamed at by their parents and posted online for everyone to see? Simulating a kidnapping, having people in masks grabbing and restraining a young girl, then yelling at her about what could have happened if they really had been bad guys? It feels more like an attempt to generate YouTube revenue and score views online than actual concern for the child. And then posting the video for all their friends and peers to see? It’s wrong. It’s a good message, but victimizing young kids to generate YouTube ad revenue is not the way to achieve it.

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