An Oklahoma mother's Facebook post has gone viral, prompting discussion of the possibility of children being kidnapped and forced into human trafficking.
According to KFOR, Amanda Kalidy had an odd experience at a Target store in Edmond, Oklahoma. She said a young child reportedly tried to lure her daughter away.
"There was this little girl that was following us, and she kept asking my daughter for candy," Kalidy recalled. "I was asking her where her mom was."
The child did not answer Kalidy’s questions. She was persistent in trying to get the woman's daughter’s attention, and later offered her some gum.
Kalidy reportedly noticed there was a “strange” man who appeared to be giving the girl instructions. Kalidy went to notify a manager at the store, but the child and man had “bolted and got into a van,” according to a post on Kalidy's Facebook page.
She was concerned that this encounter was an attempt to kidnap her daughter.
“The manager told me they target Target because moms during the day with their kids, and many times moms turn their backs when loading the car and they can grab them from shopping carts,” the post continued.
"Human trafficking is a reality in Oklahoma," Michael Snowden of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics Human Trafficking Division told KFOR.
Although law enforcement officials believe Kalidy, they doubt the man and girl involved were trying to kidnap her daughter.
"We don't generally see people snatching children from their parents or women being abducted from a retail store of some sort," Snowden said. "Human trafficking is much more subtle than that."
He said most victims are pressured over a period of time by someone they personally know or met through the Internet. Snowden also stated that he was not aware of any cases in Oklahoma in which a mother or child has been kidnapped from a retail store and forced into human trafficking.
"We would never belittle someone's fear, okay, but diversion is really a frequent tactic when I'm trying to steal your purse, get your car keys," Snowden said.
Kalidy stated on Facebook that she did not have her purse with her. She disagrees that kidnapping is rare, and said there's a local help group in her town for those who have been forced into trafficking.
"I will proudly be a helicopter mom...makes me cry to think of what could have happened," she wrote.