(LOS ANGELES) -- If you saw a child being kidnapped, what would you do? Yousef Saleh Erakat set up a hidden camera experiment to find out. In a video posted to YouTube, Erakat films strangers’ reactions when a fifth-grader -- who is in on the experiment -- tells them that he has been kidnapped by a man who is nearby. The alleged abductor is also part of the experiment.
The strangers are unaware the situation has been staged, and their reactions are startling. In the video, most people are quick to confront the alleged abductor and protect the boy, whose name is Nathan Flores.
One woman even pepper sprayed Nathan’s purported abductor. At that point, the experiment was revealed to her. Andre Jefferson, another Good Samaritan who shoved the abductor and told the boy to call his mother, said his instinct kicked in. “I felt one hundred percent responsible, because he came to me,” Jefferson said. After the hidden camera was revealed, Jefferson admitted that he was scared by the situation. “I think I was more scared than the little boy at that point in time,” he said.
One man who overheard the abductor promising the boy candy if he got into his car initially challenged the abductor but accepted his explanation of being the boy’s father. Another man didn’t try to help at all. After Nathan approached him and said “this man in a jacket, he tried to get me,” the man accepted the abductor’s explanation that the boy was his son. He even shook the abductor’s hand before he walked away from them.
Erakat, a Los Angeles filmmaker and producer, said his biggest childhood fear was of being abducted. He added that the video allowed him to express that fear and raise awareness about how to spot the signs of a child who has been abducted. The video says children who have been abducted are often too scared to ask for help outright, so adults need to be proactive. Nathan, who is an actor from Garden Grove, Calif., said that’s why he agreed to participate in the experiment. He said his motivation was “to change the world and stop people from abducting other people’s children.” His mother, Claire Flores, said she cried when she saw how people protected her son. “We all need to keep our eyes out, be more aware of our surroundings and take care of our children,” she said.
The video had been viewed more than 1.9 million times as of Thursday night.
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