Mother always says, "Never talk to strangers." The concern is understood and appreciated, but how bad could these random bystanders really be? Just wait.
Parents of Reddit took the time to look back on one of their worst nightmares and reveal the strangest encounter their child had with a stranger. Trigger warning: it gets scary.
Content has been edited for clarity.
“No One Should Be Forced Into Physical Contact Against Their Will”
“We were invited to a neighbor’s party. At this party was another woman I’d never met before, who asked if she could hold my 6-month-old boy. No problem. He’s adorable. She then proceeded to kiss him on the mouth and said, ‘There, remember that I was your first kiss!’
I immediately took him back and had to avoid her the rest of the evening without being seen as the rude one in the party. She didn’t take hints well either. He’s 3 now and I tell him he doesn’t have to kiss/hug people he doesn’t know or doesn’t want to. No one should be forced into physical contact against their will.”
Thou Shalt Not Unfairly Profile Tattooed Parents
“My husband and I were shopping at Walmart once and had our 4-year-old daughter with us. My hubs is a big, burly biker dude with tattoos. We were leaving the store and he was holding her hand as we were walking to our car when out of nowhere, this crazy Bible-thumping lady ran up to us, snatched our daughter’s free hand, trying to drag her away from us.
She started yelling about how my husband was an abomination, we were going straight to the Underworld, and she was ‘taking this precious child away from you and your evil ways so that she can be taught the glooorrryyyy of GOD!’
Needless to say, that crazy witch darn near met Jesus that day!”
“He Said He Was A Photographer”
“This happened to me when I was a kid. We were on our annual camping trip with my cousins at a lake we go to every year. We were ages 11, 10, and 8. While swimming by the shore, an elderly man approached us and asked if he could take some underwater photos of us. He said he was a photographer and proceeded to show us an album of all these underwater photos he took, all being young girls in bikinis.
Thankfully, my dad and uncle saw the whole thing, stepped in, told him to scram, and reported him to the park ranger. I’m pretty sure my uncle would have beat the crap out of him, but my dad is the calmer and more sensible one and realized the guy hadn’t taken pictures of us and, therefore, my dad had no proof that he was taking pictures of us without permission, which would have been grounds for an investigation. He had photos of little girls, but he could easily tell authority that he had permission. Not to mention my uncle and dad could have been charged with assault and battery for beating up an old man. I think they played it smart and safe by telling him off and reporting him to the ranger who knows exactly where he’s camping.
None of us realized at the time that we were in potential danger and felt bad for how our dads treated the man. Looking back on it as an adult I realize how sinister things could have gone.
I don’t want to believe he intended to assault or murder us, but he was a complete stranger and asking little girls if he could take photos of them. He was old when he approached me, but who’s to say he didn’t assault a little girl when he was younger? I don’t like to judge a book by its cover, but he was collecting photos of only little girls swimming. It was super inappropriate, creepy and a huge red flag regardless of his intentions. People like this need to be called out for what they’re doing and held to a consequence.”
This Woman Was Obviously Fascinated By Twins
“My siblings are twins. When they were very little, maybe 6 months, we went to Walmart. People are fascinated with twins, so we got random strangers asking us questions about them all the time.
One time, Mom and I were fastening them into their carseats and this little old lady wanted to see how cute they were, so she CLIMBED into our mini van to get a better look.
She didn’t mean any harm but, still, 7-year-old me was creeped out. “
“My Poor Brother Was PETRIFIED”
“My brother was probably about 9 at the time. He was skipping rocks at the beach when he, by accident, hit a woman with one of them. When my brother tearfully tried to apologize, the woman’s husband went insane.
He tried to grab him, so my brother ran and the man chased him across the beach. My poor brother was PETRIFIED, screaming and running back to us with a 45-plus-year-old man chasing behind him. My aunt ran to meet him, picked him up, and this man actually tried to grab him from my aunt’s arms.
We had to call the cops because he would not stop trying to grab my brother when no one would stand aside to allow him to beat child. Turns out his wife must have been fine because they got out of there real fast before the cops showed up.”
“A Well-Meaning Old Man With Bad Timing”
“I had just finished up dinner at a diner with my 3-year-old son and we were in line to pay. I said, ‘Stay next to me, Finn,’ and some older dude walking out stopped and said, ‘You shouldn’t say his name outside, I could use that later to do stuff.’
I went from 0 to 100 in a millisecond and it got heated. He walked away, then some 70-plus-year-old tried to pick up my son to console him, while his wife yelled at him to stop. I was a little frazzled by the time we got home to the wife. The first dude was still a creeper and deserved all my ire. The second fellow was just a well-meaning (though still wrong) old man with bad timing.
The owner of the diner gave my son a few cookies, so that’s something I suppose.”
“The Manager Of The Blockbuster Reported Him”
“When I was a little over a year old, my parents took me to a Blockbuster so they could pick up a couple movies. An elderly man approached them and offered to buy me for $10,000. They thought he was joking at first. But no, he was dead serious trying to buy me. The manager of the blockbuster reported him.
He wanted to buy me because of my blonde hair and blue eyes. Sadly people will pay large amounts of money for kids because of their eye color and stuff. I remember reading about child trafficking and kids with green eyes were in high demand because of the rarity. It happened with my brother as well. Both my hair and eyes turned shades of brown shortly after. Maybe he was a really cool billionaire that would have been the best dad in the world, or I would of been taken advantage of and killed. Fifty-fifty chance.
They occasionally tell me that they should have accepted his offer.”
Justice In The Form Of A Gift Card?
“An employee at Target once told my six-year-old that, based on how she was drinking from a water bottle, she would probably be really popular with the boys in high school, maybe even middle school.
This was a teenage boy working the register.
Target took freaking forever to respond. They sent me a $50 gift card that got donated at work. The regional manager person told me, ‘I can’t guarantee if you come to the store again, he won’t still be there.’ My sister-in-law and I freaked out, and luckily the kiddo didn’t know what that person was inferring.”
They Called Him Dr. House, But He Was Worse
“This happened to me when I was about 3 years old. My mom told me about this like a year ago.
Some guy who was known as ‘Dr. House’ in our village (because of his insane prescription medication use and his appearance), walked up to me in a park and started talking to me in baby language: ‘Goo goo ga ga blah blah blah,’ etc.
My mom thought he was just being funny, but he became really angry when he heard I could actually talk. He lifted me in the air and stumbled away with me in his hands, yelling, ‘Little liar!’
A guy who was also in the park then tackled Dr. House and brought me back to my mom.”
“She Started Asking If My Daughter Was A Dancer”
“My daughter is my biological daughter. We are American. She was born in Atlanta, Georgia. She’s now an adult. However, she and I have both been asked her entire life if she is adopted. Complete strangers, when they see her in person or in a photograph, will always ask where she is from. They never believe us. Most think she’s Russian but it varies. ‘No way that gorgeous kid came out of YOU!’ Well, my husband is super hot and felt sorry for me so, here we are.
Once when she was around 13, we were in the mall and a female employee approached us in a store and started making small talk. She then started asking about my daughter’s ethnicity and commenting on how exotic she looked, how beautiful she was, etc. She started asking if my daughter was a dancer.
‘Not sure. Why?’ I asked.
My daughter said yes. Then, the woman started asking where she danced, if she had recitals, could she come watch sometime? She said she wished she had pictures to send back home to show her relatives because she’s just so beautiful. I mean, she was just staring at my daughter like she was in a trance. Then, she started touching her face and rested her hand on her shoulder. I grabbed my daughter by the hand and left. Touching my kid crosses the line.
I was so freaked out making sure no one was following us. I must have looked crazy holding the wrist of a teenage kid practically jogging through the mall. She was definitely sizing her up and wondering where she could find her later at the dance studio.”
“Don’t Touch The Stranger’s Child!”
“My son (6) has gorgeous, curly, red hair. It’s beautiful and we always get comments on it when we are out. There have been multiple times, though, when we are out that someone will reach out and run their hands through his hair without saying a word! Don’t touch my freaking child!
The other one that made me literally scream was a woman at a mall. He had just gotten out of the hospital for surgery on his legs and we were picking up pain meds on our way home. He was casted toe to knee and had pins in both feet. I had him in his little wheelchair and I was looking at the medication and heard him whimpering.
This woman came up and was playing with his toes! I loudly asked what she thought she was doing and she started stammering she was just wondering why he was casted. I told her, ‘Then you ask the adult. You don’t touch!’ I was just flabbergasted. We normally would put a blanket over them because he didn’t like the attention they got him but that day we hadn’t expected him to be released so we were unprepared.
Seriously, don’t touch a stranger’s child!”
Odd Times At The Grand Canyon
“This was many years ago when my children were very young, about 2 and 4. We were at Grand Canyon West and getting ready to leave. While we were waiting for the bus back, a group of Asian tourists rolled off the bus they just arrived on.
The group ran over and ripped my youngest out of my arms and started passing him around taking photos with him and pinching his cheeks (which were admittedly pretty darn chubby). My son, of course, was trying to figure out what the heck was happening and started to cry.
They gave him back and went on their way, but the whole thing was just weird. Who takes vacation pictures with a random baby?”
A Victim Of Assumption
“I was a parent at 18 and was pretty tatted up and pierced at the same time. I was in Walmart one day and an employee approached me with security and said they wanted me and the child to come with them to answer some questions. I hadn’t done anything wrong, so I told them to kick rocks. A few minutes later, two cops and the same employee come up to me.
Apparently, the manager profiled me and thought I had kidnapped my own child. Luckily my dad is a cop in the county we were in and I told the officers to radio him because he was on duty. Within 45 seconds, they had confirmation that she was in fact mine and I was informing the manager that profiling people might end up in more than embarrassment one day.
I wouldn’t have been upset had I not been obviously profiled. There was literally no reason for anyone to think my daughter was a kidnapping victim. She was clean, and happy and out in public. Kidnapped kids, especially infants, are more often than not disheveled and dressed like the opposite gender, very irritable if not screaming because they are with a stranger, and almost never out in public. They had no right to approach me without the cops and it was stupid to do so because, had I been a kidnapper, I would have fled.
I’ve thought about, many times, what would have happened had I went with security. Would they have taken my daughter from my hands? Held me in a room without letting me leave (which is ACTUALLY kidnapping)? Physically restrained me (which would have been false imprisonment)? It being Walmart, all of those scenarios are completely plausible.”
Some People Don’t Understand Decency
“My younger son is autistic, mostly non-verbal, and had semi-regular physical stims (flapping hands, bouncing on the balls of his feet, etc.) when he was younger. Besides all the usual nasty looks, total disregard, and mumbled insults probably every parent of a mentally or developmentally disabled child gets, we’ve experienced some simply awful people.
Ones that stick out include a woman who tried to pass us in the supermarket line (cut in line – I wasn’t blocking the aisle or anything) by just squashing my son between our carts. Like, his face was literally smushed up through the wire mesh of the cart. I snapped at her and pushed her cart away, and she responded with, ‘It’s not hurting him. He’s just an idiot anyway.’
I had one woman watching him in another store once. She sort of followed us around and I kept my eye on her. Then, when my son made a random noise, she ran up, grabbed his head, got down in his face, and said, ‘No! No! You psycho! Nice people are shopping!’
Even if he screamed (which he sometimes did – ugh), no call for that. I knocked her into a rack of clothes and yelled at her and store security came running.”
“This Lady Stood No Chance”
“My dad tells me a story of a woman that took my hand and tried to walk away with me. I was a super friendly kid, to a point where I didn’t even care if my mother or father was nearby. I liked people. Well, lady caught on, took my hand, and proceeded to walk toward the door of the Walmart.
I had run off from my mother, and the security cameras showed my mom run to the main aisle and see that I was 40 feet away with a strange woman walking towards the door. My mother then ran the woman down and, straight up, grabbed her around the neck, kicked her legs out, and then began wailing on her. My mom grew up in an abusive household and her first ‘move out’ was when she returned a beating to her wasted dad, so this lady stood no chance.
My dad outlines that security had to tackle my mother. They nearly handed me over to the lady assuming I was her kid, until I started wailing about my mom. There were charges pressed against my mom, but my parents’ lawyer got a copy of the security footage, and my mother got off with a fine. The lady got some sort of jail time or something. I’m not sure. My dad loves the video of my mom wailing on the lady and he loves to joke that the video stands as a permanent reminder of who he’s bringing to a fight.”
“GO THAT WAY, DOGGY! GO THAT WAY!”
“We were going through Heathrow airport and my son (who, at 10, thought this was a massive adventure) was racing down a ramp in front of us. There was a T-junction at the bottom and he was heading the wrong way, so I whistled at him. I’m from Africa. It’s just a thing. When I’m not near the kids and they hear me whistle, they know to stop and look at me because it usually means there’s something they need to be wary of. By the way, when I whistle, it’s like a banshee getting his giblets squeezed, so it’s a good warning system.
Anyway, this woman stopped dead in her tracks, glared at me, and said to my son, ‘You should tell him you’re not a dog,’ and then yelled at me, ‘He’s not a dog you know.’
I politely replied, ‘Back off, lady. Mind your own business,’ and pointed my son in the right direction.
Then, the scariest thing happened. She grabbed him by the face and screamed, ‘GO THAT WAY, DOGGY! GO THAT WAY!’ We dropped our stuff and started running forward, but he reacted beautifully. He kicked her hard in the crotch (assuming, I suppose, that she had canastas down there) and ran back to us.
The security guys appeared and much yelling ensued between us all before I said, ‘Forget this,’ and we walked off. Bloody loony.”
Worse Than A Football Injury
“When my son was 9, he started playing tackle football. Now, I’m not a typical football mom, but my son is adopted and, even from a young age, he not only loved football, but he has the perfect body shape for it. At age 9, that meant he was easily a foot taller than his peers. The problem is that, even with his size difference and natural athletic ability, he didn’t really know what he was doing.
It was his first year playing. A stranger filmed him doing something wrong (yes, my son was in the wrong), labeled it: ‘The dirtiest player in youth football,’ and the video went viral. News organizations picked it up, even. It was so problematic that it actually postponed me being able to adopt my son’s biological sister because we were worried about our safety from all the repercussions of the comments about how he deserved to be hurt, comments about his race (he’s black), comments about how I must be on welfare (I’m a teacher) etc.
Finally we got the guy who posted the video to take it down. My son ended up in therapy for a little while and my daughter was in foster care longer than she needed to be. All of this because of one interaction with a stranger.”
“Pay Attention So Your Kid Doesn’t Drown”
“A few years ago, I took my son (9 years old at the time) to a water fountain in my city. There are lots of fountains here for kids to splash around in. He was off splashing and playing with the other kids in the fountain. I was on my phone in the shade, most likely scrolling through Reddit. After a while, a woman approached me.
‘Excuse me,’ she said, ‘is that your little boy in the blue shorts over there?’
I replied yes.
‘I just wanted you to know that he’s been playing with that other little boy over there. His parents are sitting on that bench over there.’
She pointed to a bench where a young Hispanic-looking couple was sitting, maybe early 20s. The man was wearing a tank top and baggy pants that were sagged a little. His female companion/wife/girlfriend was in a T-shirt and shorts.
‘Maybe you do things differently in your family, but we don’t allow our grandson over there,’ she said, pointing to him, ‘to talk to people like that. I’m pretty sure they’re involved with illicit substances. I’ve worked with addicts before.’
I looked at her blankly, then back to the couple, then back at her, and I didn’t even know what to say. I mean, the guy maybe might have looked a little ‘thug-ish’ (whatever that means), but, honestly, they looked like a pretty normal couple and they were paying lots of attention to their little boy, giving him treats, taking photos, etc. After a bit I told her, ‘Yeah, I guess we do things differently than your family.’
I immediately went back to my phone. She walked away grumbling, ‘At least pay attention so your kid doesn’t drown!’
This was a jet fountain, by the way. There was no pool of water or even standing water. My kid was 9. I was 15 feet away. My biggest worry was him falling over and getting a minor scrape, for God’s sake. Not five minutes later, she came back freaking out!
‘Just so you know, their child just gave your child some candy from his bag!!!’ she said. The kid had a sack of gummy bears. I stared at her blankly again.
‘You never know what those addicts are training their kid to do!’ she said. I just told her that she really needed to worry about her own grandson and chill. She walked up to my kid and yelled, ‘I know your dad doesn’t care about you, but you don’t ever take candy from people you don’t know!’ He just looked over at me. I lost it. The best part of this little interaction? I walked up and got between them and screamed, ‘DON’T TALK TO ME OR MY SON EVER AGAIN.’
If I wasn’t there, I’d think this was a fake story. It was just what came out of my mouth. My son and I chuckled about it later while browsing memes.”