Upon completion, the experiment revealed worrying results with 50 percent of children at risk of being lured by strangers. This indicates the pressing need to teach parents the importance of supervising their children in public places and recognising a potential threat in the most unassuming settings.
Conducted in collaboration with the Community Police Department at Sharjah Police, the experiment was carried out by a group of volunteers including Hanadi Saleh Al Yafei, Director of the SCFA and Head of the Organising Committee of CSC; Nahla Hamdan, Head of Initiatives and Activities at SCFA; Hind Al Badwawi, Psychological Consultant; and Omar Al Rasheed, an actor.
They gave themselves four hours at the mall and tested 26 children including those with special needs from various age groups.
Permission was taken from parents to film their children, explaining to them that they will try to lure their young ones and film their reactions. The team used several tricks and tactics to tempt children, including promises to buy games, gifts and sweets. They also pretended to know their parents. They managed to coax 13 of the 26 participants. The other half refused to give into the strangers’ demands.
"There is probably nothing that scared a parent more than the fear of their child being lured away by a stranger, which is why we conducted this experiment to raise parents’ awareness about the need to constantly talk about stranger-danger with their little ones.
"The importance of this factual experiment and its dangerous indications are represented in conveying the CSC’s message in new and more interactive ways that can better influence parents and children and solicit their reactions about dangers surrounding children.
"During the experiment, we received different reactions from children regardless of their age or nationality. We found out that there are many parents and children who are fully aware about this topic, a fact that made us really happy and satisfied. But, we are a bit concerned about the fact that some others were so easily lured," Al Yafei explained.
After the experiment, parents were able to express how they felt as their children accepted or denied the strangers’ offers and were given a brief explanation by Psychological Consultant, Hind Al Badwawi, who spoke to both parents and children on how to protect themselves from such attempts by recognising and properly reacting to similar situations.
According to statistics by the International Labour Organisation, 1.2 million children are being trafficked at any given time worldwide. Al Yafei referred to the high security enjoyed by the UAE and the scarcity of this phenomenon within the country.
The CSC will circulate the results of the experiment to all child care centres and institutions, and broadcast the experiment’s video on TV channels and social media platforms to raise parents’ awareness about the danger of dealing with strangers and its grave consequences.