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Cub Scout lesson may have prevented abduction of two 8-year-old boys

yp-patchA Cub Scout lesson on the potential danger of strangers may have saved two boys from abduction.

Two 8-year-olds from Ogden, Utah, were waiting for a ride home from a Cub Scout meeting when a stranger approached in his truck. The man got out and said, “Your mom told me to come and get you. I’m supposed to take you home.”

One of the boys said, “No, you’re not. What’s the password?” The man pushed that boy to the ground and moved on to the second boy, who also asked for the password. When the stranger didn’t know the right secret word, both boys ran back to the church where adults were waiting.

This is no overstatement: Lessons these boys learned in Cub Scouting may have saved their lives.

As this Deseret News article explains, police are crediting the boys’ Cub Scout training with saving them from potential abduction.

“You gotta love the Scout program because the Scout program teaches that,” Ogden Police Lt. Danielle Croyle told the newspaper. 

The family had only recently set a secret password, which is an abduction-prevention method where parents give their children a secret code word known only by authorized individuals. That way if someone unexpected does indeed need to pick up the child, a “stranger” has a way of identifying himself as a trusted friend of the family.

The Utah family, which will remain anonymous to protect the boy’s identity, learned about the password idea in Scouting, the boy’s mother said. She told the newspaper that part of her son’s Scouting homework was to talk about “stranger danger” with his parents. She never expected to need or use the password.

“I did it just kind of last minute, honestly, just trying to rush through it and get the lesson done,” she told the paper. “I really believe it possibly could have saved them both.”

This is exactly why the BSA’s mandatory Youth Protection training, for both youth and adults, is so critical. Take these lessons seriously, and you just may save someone you care about from tragedy.

17 Comments on Cub Scout lesson may have prevented abduction of two 8-year-old boys

  1. Glad to hear these kids used what they were taught and I’m glad that the BSA helps teach Scouts how to say safe and make smart choices. But this whole incident bring up one question: why were two 8-year-olds just sitting outside unsupervised while the rest of the den was inside?

    • I was wondering the same thing. As a Scout leader myself, I do not understand why these two boys were left without direct supervision. Two deep leadership seems to have been missed by letting them wait for their ride away from the group.

  2. This incident is a good reason for why the BSA trains leaders to practice a policy of a “positive handoff” – one adult making contact with another adult when a scout passes from the supervision of one to the other. These boys showed great maturity and clear-headedness in what must have been a scary situation. Good for them and good for mom for paying attention and thinking ahead. A password will go on my “to do” list today.

  3. H. David Pendleton // May 30, 2014 at 9:47 am // Reply

    My first thought was exactly like Kevin’s above. I never let my Scouts “go outside & play” while they were waiting to be picked up by their parents while I was inside putting stuff away from the den meeting. I normally would have those that were still there “help” me take my wagon load of stuff to my truck. It gave them something to do & at that age, it made them feel important to be helping out after the normal clean-up before the closing flag ceremony.

  4. Two 8-year-olds were waiting for a ride home from a Cub Scout meeting unsupervised? Letting Scouts, especially at just 8-years-old, simply leave a meeting without an adult checking in to check them out is ridiculous! How would these den leaders know if they went home with their mom, with this stranger, with someone else, or just wondered off on their own? These kids could be at home with their mom, abducted by some stranger, or lost wondering the streets of Ogden, Utah…the leaders would have no idea!

    I’m glad the Scouts learned something from the Youth Protection Training, let’s home their leaders learn something too!

  5. I just want to make sure we remember who the bad guy is in this incident. The bad guy is the person who allegedly tried to abduct the boys. Of course, in this day and age, 8-year-olds can’t be left out of the sight of supervising adults.and positive handoff is the only way to go when you are responsible for the health and safety of young children. But let’s make sure we don’t “blame the victim.” I hope they catch the creep asap for the safety of all the area children.

    • This is my thinking as well. Regardless of the circumstances leading up to the incident and what you would’ve done or not done in hindsight, these boys knew exactly how to react when it counted. And they deserve our praise.

    • That is the mentality these days…blame the victim, never the perp.

      “But, but…you put yourself in danger”

      Here’s a novel idea…teach the criminals not to be, well, criminals. That starts with a great program, such as Cub Scouts.

      Good thing these young Scouts have good heads on their shoulders and used what was taught to them.

      • No one is blaming the victim, just want to know why the leadership failed to protect the… Victims.

        Not surprised this happened in a Utah pack. They run cub scouting pretty fast and loose in Utah.

  6. Kenneth Tillman // May 30, 2014 at 11:04 am // Reply

    This also shows another important lesson we teach in the Scouts — the Buddy System. These boys weren’t alone because they had each other.

  7. Jim Kangas // May 30, 2014 at 12:06 pm // Reply

    Bryan, I linked your column, emailed it to the two Cubmasters in our community and urged them to share it with the parents in their packs. We’re in a small semi-rural city, but that’s no guarantee of safety these days.

    When I was a kid I would be out all day either playing alone or with friends (of course checking in to eat lunch), but times have changed for the worse since those days not THAT many years ago.

    • No times have not changed for the worse, crime is down significantly since you were a kid, from the FBI “…violent crime rates of 2010 were 1/3 the rates of 1994″.

      Stanger’s have never been the horrible boogie man they were made out to be. Yes in this case it was a strange but only about 37% of the 58,000 or so abductions each year are by strangers. The only thing that is worse today is the 24 hour news cycle that needs to be filled by something “sensational” to keep up ratings.

      • Just like the Deseret News, keeping it sensational.

        About time someone brought in those things, what are they, oh yes, facts.

        Our scouts are far more likely to be victimized, molested, abused, or worse by family members than strangers.

  8. Although YPT doesn’t cover this issue the adults should have been outside with the boys, If they boys left the meeting without checking out with the adults then the entire pack needs to be talked to about checking out with an adult. Better yet parents need to let the leaders know they are taking the boys, when my husband and I were the key leaders in the pack we always made sure an adult let us know they were taking a boy. If a parents doesn’t come inside to get the youth then the youth doesn’t leave the building.

  9. Which Cub Scout achievement, elective, or activity teaches passwords when dealing with strangers?

    Just want to know if CS actually resulted in the boys behavior or if this is a case of “boys were smart, got out of trouble, oh they’re also scouts, therefor Scouting saved them.”

    • They discuss checking with a parent or trusted adult before accepting rides from strangers (or even neighbors) in the Parent’s Guide in the front of the Wolf handbook. They don’t spell out using passwords there, but that would be one way to ensure that you have your parents’ permission.

      • The article is titled, “cub scout lesson may have…” Not “Cub Scout lesson prevented”

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