Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The redirect possibilities are endless

One of the more seemingly harmless though in reality careless acts a parent can do is placing the name of their child on the exterior of their child's clothing. Predators could sometimes use that information to the disadvantage of a child who would believe anyone who knows their name must be a friend of the family or knows them.

While it statistically isn't all that likely that having a name visible on an outer article of clothing will make a child the victim of a crime it becomes ever so slightly more possible that they will. Given their druthers a predator goes for the easier target, something that allows them to separate prey from the herd. For that reason the makers of those stick figure family car window decals advise against identifying the family members by name. I would advise against displaying them at all.

So it was that yesterday while at the mall I witnessed one of those Things That Make You Go Tsk. A barely-supervised child was running up and down the sidewalk, playing, ducking out of sight, wandering further away from the parent by increments and being distracted by things. All in all being a typical kid. She was pretty gregarious and talked up every person that walked by. Not a problem mostly except that on the front of her dress was a piece of tape with her name written on it, apparently a remainder of a class field trip that was not removed before school ended.

When her Billy-esque wanderings brought the child to my side I asked her for her name tag because I had lost mine. Without pausing the youngster stripped the tape off and handed it to me. As she then bounced off to play I wadded up the tape and tossed it into an adjacent trash can. The parent, siting on a bench a few feet away, paused the phone conversation long enough to glare at me with her piggish, dead, hate-filled eyes. "Yeah." I told her. "You probably don't want strangers to know your daughter's name." She then resumed her phone call, annoyed perhaps that a complete meddling stranger was the better parent to her child than she was.

The name tag incident led me to think about how funny/cool it would be to put an ambush QR Code on a shirt or on stickers to place around playgrounds. When some weirdo photographs happy children playing on a jungle gym their phone will detect the code in the camera field and immediately lead them to some website like whyareyoutakingpicturesofmykidyoufreak.com, preferably with some self-starting, screaming audio designed to draw attention to the creepy stalker. The destination of the code link is limited only by the imagination of the creator.

QR codes are easy to generate and print out on a variety of media. Don't be surprised if some educationally-themed QR codes start showing up in the wild around some local San Diego playgrounds, schools and parks.


  1. That is an awesome idea with the QR code. It always bugs me when people have names on their kid's shirts as it always seemed like it could be turned into a conversation starter for a pervert.

  2. Still waiting for someone to tell me where that QR code goes...

  3. OMG..how stupid can some parents be? They don't deserve to have children. I see vans everyday and cringe because I know they aren't 'happy vans'.

  4. I hope you don't have kids yet. And when you do, I hope you at least make holes int he bubble-wrap.

    It's more likely that a car would leap the curb and kill all of you than some stranger would come and snatch away the "barely supervised" (well, the mom noticed you, didn't she?) child--and occurrence that is ridiculously rare, anyway. The mother probably thought you were and idiot. So do I.

    Guess what? I let my kids play in the yard ENTIRELY UNSUPERVISED. And no one comes to try to steal them away--nor do they explode.

    "When some weirdo photographs happy children..." Come in, Paranoia-land. This is Earth. Step away from the helicopter--and go visit the Free Range Kids blog.

    Sheesh. It's a good thing we don't have anyone like you on our street. We yell at kids for trying to kill themselves on homemade skate ramps without using their helmets. (Trying to kill oneself while wearing a helmet is perfectly permitted.) We don't obsess about incredibly remote dangers.

  5. Seems to me that this is just made of collateral damage. Somebody tries to take a picture of their own kid when Overly Paranoid Parent Boy happens to run through the shot and winds up being pegged as a potential child molester. Good luck wadding up and throwing away THAT label.


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