A few years ago, I observed a preschool teacher instructing a room full of four-year-olds that if a stranger tries to talk to you, yell "GO AWAY!" in your loudest voice." I was very uncomfortable with this, and that scene has remained with me as an icon for well-meant advice gone terribly wrong.
And that was what I immediately thought of when I read this passage from the tale of the Utah boy's survival in the wilderness:
Brennan's mother, Jody Hawkins, suggested her son may have been avoiding searchers by following his father's advice.
"He had two thoughts going through his head all the time," she said. "Toby's always told him that 'if you get lost, stay on the trail.' So he stayed on the trail.
"We've also told him don't talk to strangers. ... When an ATV or horse came by, he got off the trail. ... When they left, he got back on the trail."
"His biggest fear, he told me, was someone would steal him," she said.
Brennan's uncle, Bob Hawkins, said his nephew may have been afraid to contact the strangers because they weren't using the password his family had adopted.
I hope these people understand that this stupid password system nearly cost their son his life.