Hey dads, have you been teaching your young daughter how to refuse a ride from a stranger?

There are predators out there, and you’re a key player in whether or not your daughter gets reeled into getting inside a car with a complete stranger who offers her a ride when she’s walking somewhere.

It just keeps happening over and over: women and teen girls accepting rides from strangers (men), despite a continuous flurry of news about this very act leading up to rape and murder.

Women and teen girls who do this aren’t “stupid” in the academic sense.

An airing of “Mystery Detectives” focused on a 17-year-old girl who was an excellent student with dreams of becoming a doctor.

She was walking home, less than one-quarter mile away, when a virtual stranger pulled up, offered her a ride and she accepted!

This man (age 24) wasn’t a complete stranger (he was living with her cousin), but she hardly knew him. The girl was living with her single mother…

Teens Getting into Cars with Strangers: Why?!

“Whatever the bait that the stranger promises  —  a puppy, candy or simply a ride, the real reason teens and young women take the bait is deeper,” begins Carole Lieberman, MD, forensic psychiatrist and author of Bad Boys: Why We Love Them, How to Live With Them and When to Leave Them.

Dad. Or lack thereof.

“The real bait is the promise of a surrogate daddy’s love,” says Dr. Lieberman. “The driver is offering ‘the kindness of strangers’  —  a man who is going out of his way to pay attention to and help the girl.”

Before you question this explanation, ask yourself how many young women you think would take a ride being offered by another young woman (complete stranger), or how many middle-aged women would accept a ride from a 25-year-old man. Not that it never happens, but…there’s a strong point to be made here.

You’d think that today’s proliferation of frightening headlines, says Dr. Lieberman, would scare off young women and teen girls from accepting rides with strangers or men they just met.

But, she continues, “At the same time the number of girls who are longing for male attention has skyrocketed because of losing daddies to divorce, depression and other problems.

“This makes girls more vulnerable than ever to a man who, despite his malevolent intentions, appears to care about them.”

This got me thinking: What percentage of young women and teenage girls, who accept a ride from a stranger (and this includes a “nice” man they just met at a bar or party), grew up in a home without a father?

This data is not available. But a surprising number of women and teen girls who simply get into a car, driven by a stranger, have had no strong father figure in their life, says Dr. Lieberman, based upon her years of professional experience in the legal system.

The absent father isn’t the only explanation, though, for why a girl would get into a stranger’s car. It’s a multifactorial process.

After all, there are teens and women, raised by strong single mothers, never knowing their fathers or having little contact with them, who couldn’t be paid a thousand bucks to get into a stranger’s car in 19 degree weather.

What can fathers do to ensure their daughters will never get into a car with a stranger?

This article pertains strictly to those who voluntarily get into the vehicle, versus those who are frightened in by the sight of a wavering gun.

The first and most important relationship a girl will ever have, says Dr. Lieberman, is that with her father. Even if dad is physically present, married to the girl’s mother, this alone doesn’t guarantee a strong positive presence; he can still be emotionally distant and neglectful, or harsh and denigrating.

“The way you relate to your daughter will determine how she views men for the rest of her life  —  from whom she picks to date to whom she’ll marry to whether she will fall victim to a stranger,” explains Dr. Lieberman.

“If you don’t make her feel like she’s a lovable princess from day one, she will wind up dating bad boys, giving up on finding her prince and ending up in a loveless marriage.

“That is, if she hasn’t been raped and killed by a sweet-talking stranger beforehand.”

You Don’t Have to Spoil Her

Hey dads, don’t make the mistake of assuming that making your daughter feel like a valuable princess will set her up for being spoiled rotten.

Nobody says you must buy her everything she points her finger at or hand her your credit card every time she blinks.

When fathers make their daughters feel important and valued, and make time for them and have a relationship that’s real rather than based on just material provisions, this will go a long way in protecting a teen girl (and when she grows up to womanhood) from voluntarily accepting a ride from a stranger.

Dr. Lieberman analyzes the psychological impact of world events, as a guest and/or host on all major media outlets. Her appearances include “Larry King Live,” “The Today Show,” “Good Morning America,” “Entertainment Tonight,” CNN and Fox News.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.