Childhood is an exciting and scary time. There are so many possibilities available, but no matter how much guidance parents give, there are still risks. For these adults, they've looked back on their childhood and realized they had experiences that could've ended a lot worse if something hadn't happened. They ended up escaping something terrible or saying no to something enticing, but it could've gone much, much worse. Content has been edited for clarity
"A buddy and I were walking up a steep road to his place; there was about 1-2 km left, so about 20 minutes of walking.
We were getting exhausted, it was hot, so as a joke we put our thumbs up (universal sign for hitchhiking), asking for a ride. We were two boys around 12 years old.
A glass van stops, the kind that has the glass racks on the outside of the vehicle, no glass, but the rack was still there, he tells us to hop on and he will give us a ride up the hill. We hop on, we brace ourselves for movement, and this guy PUNCHES it, by the time we were at the top of the hill, my hands were so sore from holding on, he must have been going a good 50-70 kilometers per hour.
I let go, my friend lets go, we say thanks and he drives off. We look at each other in a 'Let's not ever do that again' kind of way."
"When I was 11, some friends and I were playing cricket at a nearby schoolyard on a Sunday, so the school was closed. One of my friends hit the ball over a fence and knocked on the door to ask if he could go into the backyard to retrieve the ball.
He came back a few minutes later and said that the man in the house invited us over.
The five of us walked over to the house and there was a man in his 60's standing in the doorway telling us to come inside and take a seat in his lounge room. He then offered us adult drinks and smokes which we all accepted, thinking it was cool.
Fortunately, we were not assaulted, but he told us not to tell our parents and to come to visit him again sometime. We never did. But we all bragged about drinking and smoking when we went back to school the next day.
Looking back at this situation as an adult makes me feel very, very uncomfortable.
He was definitely grooming us."
"I once got really wasted at a swanky New York City hotel bar as a kid. My grandpa tipped the bartender a couple hundred dollars to give me whatever I wanted and then left me there by myself. It was a different time, apparently, where adult supervision wasn't required and the drinking age wasn't a real thing. Anyway, after getting completely smashed, I decided to walk around the city at around midnight by myself. I remember going up to random people on street corners and just hanging out talking to them.
They were absolutely gangbangers as I remember them all wearing very similar colors. I also wandered into an area where a pretty large group of homeless people were living and just walked up and started talking to people. I was a small, 14-year-old, nicely dressed white kid walking around the slums of NYC. Nobody did anything remotely threatening and I eventually made it back to my hotel but anytime I think back on that night, I just think how stupid and dangerous that was, and how I can't believe my grandfather let me do that."
"When I was about 8 years old, I used to sneak off to the community pool nearby to go swimming. On one of those instances, I was leaving the pool when this older, semi overweight guy with grey hair stopped me. He was really nice, made comments about my Rocko's Modern Life towel, how good a swimmer I was, etc.
He offered to drive me home as I 'must have been tired after all that swimming.' I agreed very stupidly and we started driving. I remember he circled around the same block about 30 times. He was nervous and kept talking to himself. I started to get really worried about what I'd gotten myself into and asked if I could just go home. He went silent and we sat in the car as he droves for another five minutes. Luckily enough for me, I saw my older brother with his friends at the basketball court nearby. I rolled down the window and shouted out to him. It made the older man extremely nervous and he nearly pushed me out of the car around the corner and sped off.
When I told my brother, he absolutely freaked out on me. He then made me tell our parents and they subsequently called the cops. I didn't understand what had happened until a couple of years later. I know just how unbelievably lucky I am to have come out of it without being hurt."
"I was 12, it was summertime, and I was at a Girl Scout camp trip canoeing along the Suwannee River in Florida. We were five girls under 14, an 18-year-old woman lifeguard, and Ben, one of my friend's fathers as the trip leader.
We canoed for a week down the river. We pulled our canoes up the side of the bank every night and pitched tents. It was primitive living, wash in the river sort of trip. It was great fun.
The last night or so, we stopped at a state park called Fanning Springs, and this was probably a Friday or Saturday night, which we knew because the park was really active with lots of people about, in a rural location. Our campsite was up a fairly high embankment for Florida. We climbed it easily as kids, but all these years later I wouldn't want to get up it now with my knees, etc. But we were above everyone else in a rather isolated spot.
We spent the day canoeing and arrived in the afternoon, so we swam in the springs and had dinner in our campsite. As night was falling, all of us were sitting quietly on five-gallon pickle buckets when we heard a lot of shouting, hooting, and hollering. It was comical slapstick kind of stuff. A couple of local rednecks were completely trashed and loud. They had been driving their truck in donuts in the parking lot and had made their way to the springs. They had fallen in and were falling down over each other, and each time they got louder and louder. Eventually, they made their way into the camp, up the steep hill, while falling several times.
Ben met them away from most of us. I watched as he walked up to them and chatted a bit. I couldn't hear what they were saying, but it lasted a few minutes, and then the two rednecks left us alone. The entire time Ben faced them he held a hatchet behind his back like he was scratching an itch between his shoulders.
I don't really know when it hit me that Ben was holding that hatchet in case he had to use it to protect us. It wasn't until a few years later I think that I truly understood what was going on."
"I was obsessed with Harriet the Spy when I was a kid, and wanted to be just like her and write in my notebook about strangers. I scooted around my neighborhood doing that, but then also wanted to actually go inside the houses like she does to learn more. I lived in a rough-ish part of Baltimore where things weren't really that safe for kids to be walking around alone, and bad things happened if you weren't being aware of your surroundings.
My dumb self (9-year-old skinny little Asian girl with long black hair) thought I could just sneak into someone's house and write in my journal about them and then sneak back out without anything happening. I tried opening basement doors, prying open windows, got as far as reaching up into someone's bathroom window to almost crawl in, even parted all their curtains for it, but it was too high and I fell out. I am sure I would have been shot or at least had the police called on me if anyone saw me and got scared."
"I was a good, upstanding kid as a nipper, but I had a few notable close friends from the 'wrong side of town,' let's say. I don't know why they gravitated toward me, but they did.
So as a result, I was friends with a lot of the school bullies and misfits. I guess I was like, their moral center?
I'll recount a batty situation one of my friends put me in. I got a knock on my door; bad boy mate was at the door, let's call him 'Matt.' Matt and I went out to do our usual things on our bikes like just mess around and talk about nothing. He suggested we go back to his house.
I never liked going to his house because it was, as I said before, in a rough, rough part of town. He said his mum was out so we could play some video games and eat tons of food. I agreed, went over, and we got to business.
I had the weird feeling that he was being a bit of a kiss-up, which was super out of character for him. He'd usually be the sort to leave you for dead if it got a laugh. Anyway, he was layering gifts on me, said I could keep a few of his Yu-Gi-Oh cards, seemed to let me win on the game, and then I heard like a muffled sneeze.
His house was in pretty bad condition and the walls were thin. The sneeze I heard was definitely his mother. I didn't think much of it at the time. I must've been like 13 at the time. I just thought, 'Huh, he made a mistake, his mum is home.'
Hours went by of silence. Not even any movement upstairs. The house was just us two playing the game and talking. It was starting to get dark by this point, and then Matt stood up and said, 'Hey dude, come upstairs with me.' I agreed, went upstairs, he walked ahead of me. He went into his mother's bedroom, I waited outside on the landing. He came out with a massive purple adult toy and said, 'This is my mum's. Isn't it funny?'
Me being a 13-year-old kid, I agreed. I just got a bit of enjoyment out of it because it was a funny looking dong, and anything to do with adult activities piqued my interest at that age. I started laughing and said, 'Dude, that's huge and floppy' He then carried on the laughter awkwardly, and followed up with, 'Hey, want to touch it?'
I said, 'Sure.'
I dunno, his mum was kinda hot in a trashy sort of way, she had been in and out of prison and obviously has trouble finding decent men, so I was more than up for at least poking it to watch it wiggle around. Matts voice then got to the sort of tone that I would describe as 'hypothetically serious.' He said, 'Hey man. If you had the opportunity to bang my mum, would you do it?'
Me not seeing the red flags, I just said, 'Yeah man, I'd do anything that moves!' Well, it turns out I wouldn't do anything that moves. He opened the door to his mum's bedroom, and there she was in full lingerie, chest out, basically inviting me in. I made an excuse. And left as fast as I could. I knew at that point I was doing something wrong, my fight or flight instinct overwhelmingly picked flight.
Turns out, Matt's reasoning for luring an underage boy to smash his mum was because she had offered him a whole manner of things such as money, games, new bike etc. Matt was a poor kid, and he wanted all of that, and in his mind, all he had to do was get his mate laid. We were still friends after that, but it definitely soured our friendship, I stopped wanting to hang out with him, and eventually, we just lost contact. It was a very strange time in my life."
"When I was 2 or 3, my mother sent me to swim lessons at the local natatorium. There were people around and the instructor used lanes, but she still couldn't monitor the entire area all the time. We had a class of about six toddlers learning to swim, so that was a handful. We only had eight feet of water and no shallow end.
So there was one instructor, but there was also a bleacher of six or more moms watching the lessons and casually socializing. The instructor would have us sit on the edge of the pool while she demonstrated and taught, and then she'd give one of us a noodle or something to help. The kids that weren't swimming at the time didn't have a noodle.
When I got bored, I would wander off and try and swim by myself. The instructor had to continue 'rescuing me', but I guess I saw it the same way as me wandering a little away while my mom talked to someone. If I started drowning, she'd have NO idea I was under the water until it was too late.
The instructor took me and swam to the bottom of the eight-foot pool and back up and told me that's what would happen if I kept swimming off, except nobody would come to help me swim to the top again. I guess I behaved after that."
"I was a dumb kid walking on recently frozen ice on a lake and fell through at the point where the water came up to my waist. In trying to get out, I got my whole body wet. I walked a mile home in freezing conditions, so I was pretty frozen when I got there.
I remember getting home and knocking on the sliding glass door to show my mom how I was frozen. She immediately pulled me in and stuck me in front of the wood stove, undressed me and wrapped me up in dry towels and blankets. It could have been a lot worse, between falling in the lake at another spot where I couldn't get out or getting really sick from walking around, wet, in freezing temperatures."
"I was 9 or 10 at the time and visiting relatives in Colorado. I had a cousin who was the same as me and equally idiotic. While on a walk, we found a lighter with maybe a tenth of an inch of lighter fluid left in it. My cousin pocketed it and we went home.
An hour later, he and I were hanging out in the living room where there's a fire going and he asked me if he should throw the lighter in the fire to see what will happen. I said, 'Go for it.'
In our minds, the plastic would melt and the fluid would flare up a bit.
So he tossed it in the fire, the plastic sizzled and melted while our dumb faces loomed maybe a foot or so away, watching it. Then there's this tremendous BANG that shook the whole fire and a flash of flame in our faces.
That microscopic bit of lighter fluid had way more punch than we expected and it blew up in our faces, singeing our eyebrows and burning our bangs.
Because I felt no pain at the time, I didn't realize just how dangerous it could've been. The lighter did no lasting damage to us or the cabin, but years later and I know I could've easily been blinded or killed."
"I was invited to my friend's family campout (we were in cabins) when I was 13. Well on one of the nights, her 30-year-old cousin decided to drop his pants in front of me, completely unprompted. After dinner, I excused myself, and went to the cabin my friend, her parents and I were staying and read a book. My friend came in asking if I was okay, and I just shrugged and said, 'I don't want to be around Tim right now, he kind of just showed me his wiener.' I was 13, give me a break.
My friend went and told her parents and his parents what he did. The next day, they made him apologize to me and when we got home, her mother told my mother. My mother got a lawyer involved, and he had to write an apology letter to me and my mother, so she wound up not pressing charges or anything after that.
Now, my 13-year-old self at the time knew what he did was wrong, but it didn't really hit me until a few years later how messed up it was that a 30-year-old guy thought that was okay at all. At the time, I was just rolling my eyes at the adults like, 'Okay, this is embarrassing, just drop it.' If that were my kid, though, I'd be freaking out, probably more than my parents did."
"I walked into a stranger's house (when I was 4 years old) because she had dogs and I wanted to pet them. Thankfully, she was a nice lady. She asked me my name (because she just walked downstairs to a little girl in her living room), and I told her that was stranger danger and she said: 'Sweetie, you're already in my house....'
Eventually, she found my mom and they became great friends."
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"When my best friend at the time and I used to always hang out with her older cousin. We were 13/14 and she was 20. We would always stay at her house and she would take us to parties with all her older friends. We thought she was so cool for letting us come and drink with all her friends. They would always tell us how much older we both seemed and how mature we were for our age. The guys would hit on us and we thought they believed we were just older girls (of course).
It turns out that cousin was an addict, all her friends were creepy losers and we were so oblivious to it because we were young and naive. It creeps me out so much knowing she put us in those situations and how fast any of those guys could have had their way with two young, wasted girls who didn't know any better."
"I remember being a little kid at the laundromat with my mom, maybe around 7 or 8 years old. I was old enough to not have to stay in her direct line of sight, but still pretty young.
I was hanging out in front of the laundromat when a woman approached me and started talking to me, asking me questions that seemed innocent enough at the time. She was asking me stuff like how old I was, where my parents were at, etc.
At some point, I remember she started suggesting she could take me down the street and buy me something to drink, or take me down the street to Burger King and buy me some food or something. It's not like I was sitting out there and begging for food, so this was all on her own accord. I obviously didn't go with her and my mom was right there the entire time, but who knows what she was after? It definitely creeps me out when I think about it.
It may have truly been innocent enough, who knows? I don't want to say for sure that she was going to kidnap me or something. I knew it was weird and I didn't go with her, but looking back as an adult it definitely seems pretty creepy and dangerous to figure out why she was trying to lure a kid away like that."