Rumor: Rapists Lure Victims with Crying Child

Netlore Archive

Crying Baby
Evan Kafka/Stone/Getty Images

Viral messages circulating via email and social media since 2005 claim gang members in various parts of the world have begun using crying children pretending to be lost or in distress to lure female victims to secluded places to be assaulted. Police have repeatedly stated there is no evidence such tactics are actually being used by rapists.

Description: Viral text / Email rumor
Circulating since: March 2005
Status: False (details below)

2014 example:
As shared on Facebook, Jan. 7, 2014:

ATTENTION ALL GIRLS AND LADIES:

if you walk from home, school, office or anywhere and you are alone and you come across a little boy crying holding a piece of paper with an address on it, DO NOT TAKE HIM THERE! Take him straight to the police station for this is the new 'gang' way of Kidnap and rape. The incident is getting worse. Warn your families and friends.

Repost this please!


2011 example:
Email contributed by Susan H., Feb. 7, 2011:

FW: Fox News Alert - Please Read!

FROM CNN & FOX NEWS

This is from the County Sheriff Department please read this message very carefully.

This message is for any lady who goes to work, college or school or even driving or walking the streets alone.-

If you find a young person crying on the road showing you their address and is asking you to take them to that address... take that child to the POLICE STATION!! No matter what you do, DON'T go to that address. This is a new way for gang members to rape women. Please forward this message to all ladies & guys so that they can inform their sisters & friends. Please don't feel shy to forward this message. Our 1 message may save a life. Published by CNN & FOX NEWS (Please circulate)..

**Please DO NOT IGNORE!


2005 example:
Email contributed by Karl H., March 29, 2005:

Subject: New Rape Case Tactic

Hi everyone, I am not sure when did this happen, but it is best to be careful and safety comes first.

She was just discharged from the hospital...

Today after office hours, I heard from my sister-in-law that there is a new way to rape women It happened to one of our good friends The girl left the office after working hours and saw a little child crying on the road Feeling pity for the child, she went and ask what happened The child said, "I am lost. Can you take me home please?" Then the child gave her a slip and tell the girl where the address is. And the girl, being an average kind person, didn't suspect anything and took the child there.

And there when it arrived the "child's home", she pressed the door bell, yet she was shocked as it the bell was wired with high voltage, and fainted. The next day when she woke up, she found herself in an empty house up in the hills, naked.

She has never even get to see the face of the attacker... That's why nowadays crimes are targeted on kind people

Next time if the same situation occurs, never bring the child to the intended place. If the child insist, then bring the child to the police station. Lost child are best to send to police stations.

Please send this to all your female friends.
(my extra note: guys, please tell your mom, your sister, your wife and your girlfriends too!)


Analysis: Despite the fact that recent variants of this rumor have been shared under the guise of "police warnings" or "sheriff's department warnings," I've found no reports of documented cases in which rapists actually used (or even attempted to use) crying children as bait to lure female victims.

To the contrary, law enforcement officials have repeatedly denounced these warnings as hoaxes.

The earliest version I'm aware of was forwarded to me in 2005 by a reporter in Singapore who had already identified it as an urban legend. Within a month it had made its way to South Africa, and by May 2005 I was receiving copies of it from readers in the United States. As of 2013, eight years later the first sighting, law enforcement agencies were still fielding inquiries about it from El Paso to Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.

Viral Rape Warnings Can Be Misleading and Dangerous

People sometimes defend viral warnings like these by arguing that, even if false in their particulars, they remind women to keep their wits about them and be careful, and that can't hurt. What weakens that argument is that the false warnings are, in fact, so specific. To the degree that potential victims are persuaded to focus their attention on, say, a crying child as a sign that an attacker may be nearby, the more likely it is that they'll be inattentive to other cues — real cues — that they're in danger.

Sources and further reading:

No, Facebook Users, MS-13 Gang Members Are Not Using Kids To Lure Miami Rape Victims
Miami New Times, 1 March 2012

Facebook Hoax: ATTENTION ALL GIRLS AND LADIES
ZDNet, 2 February 2012

Don't Forward: New Rape Tactic Email
CBS Houston, 2 September 2011

Bakri: SMS About Crying Kids Is a Hoax
The Star (Malaysia), 17 May 2011

Sheriff's Office Notifies Public About Email Hoax
The Record (Orange County, Texas), 6 May 2011

Winnebago County Sheriff Warns of False Email
Rockford Register Star, March 7, 2011

Sheriff's Office Warns of Lost Child Hoax
El Paso Times, 19 January 2011