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Child overheard scary comments on Stanford campus

Original post made by CampParent on Jun 22, 2012

My child is taking a sports camp at Stanford this week and overheard some scary comments from two guys walking through campus.  They were big, athletic guys and walking near the Maples Pavilion.  They were saying (I paraphrase my child here) how they wanted to take one of these little kids, put them in their car, and drive them to a haunted house and scare them. I asked my child if they sounded serious and concluded that they were probably joking. Still I am disturbed by this and debating whether to make a bigger deal out of it.  What would you do?

I decided to post here because I am also shocked that young men (Stanford athletes perhaps? I hope not) are saying things like this in front of kids. It reminds me of this whole situation with the verbally abused bus driver.  This sort of sick humor is becoming far too prevalent and I am furious that my child had to hear it.

Comments (17)

Posted by Aquamarine, a resident of Stanford
on Jun 22, 2012 at 7:24 pm

What to do about it? Nothing. People say lousy things all of the time. I have witnessed things done by Stanford athletes that make what your child heard pale in comparison - and I was a minor at the time.


Posted by who, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 22, 2012 at 7:55 pm

If you can identify the men, then talk to them directly or maybe talk to their coach if you're too scared to talk to them directly.

If you can't identify them, who are you going to complain to? The college athletic director? He likely can't identify them either, then nothing will happen anyway.

If your kid is in some kind of camp, he should have immediately complained to a staff member. Now, doing anything is essentially impossible. And of course, being rude is not illegal. You're talking about scolding someone for bad manners, nothing more.


Posted by CampParent, a resident of another community
on Jun 22, 2012 at 8:08 pm

If I had been there, I would have talked to them directly. I do think this goes beyond bad manners, and something that definitely needs a scolding. Kids should feel safe and happy at summer camp, not threatened by boorish adults. If Stanford athletes are doing things worse than this then shame on them for bringing shame to themselves and to Stanford. No amount of goals, points or wins can erase such ignorance and lack of class.


Posted by Mom, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 23, 2012 at 7:36 am

Who was supervising your child at the time? That's the person really at fault here...where were the adults from her sports camp?


Posted by P Wallace, a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 23, 2012 at 11:03 am

First: "If Stanford athletes are doing things..."

Stanford athletes?????? Jumping to some faulty conclusions here based on third hand hearsay that starts with a story from a child of an anonymous poster.

Second: agree with "Mom", if you're going to post drivel about someone teasing (bullying) a kid about a haunted house, then one is curious about the supervision along with a number of other factors in the story.

Third: this forum doesn't allow bullying threads to stay up long.

Sooner or later, a poster notes that some rather famous folks in today's news were bullies in their elitist prep school days, and then the thread gets censored. The one I'm thinking of involved a former Stanford (1 year, before going to France to avoid the Vietnam War) and Harvard student (2 degrees, or as Santorum says: "what a snob!"), and his bully days that were reported in numerous outlets and verified by his fellow students.

Bullying discussions, however much we may learn from them, don't last long.

If the story about the camp is true, then it is a form of bullying. Times have changed from the days when it was okay for a preppie to assault a gay student and use his gang to forcably chop his hair.

The original poster should bring it to the attention of the appropriate authorities at the camp and the campus.


Posted by P Wallace, a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 23, 2012 at 11:09 am

Another "merry prank" by the former Stanford student:

"When Mitt Romney was a college freshman, he told fellow residents of his Stanford University dormitory that he sometimes disguised himself as a police officer – a crime in many states, including Michigan and California, where he then lived. And he had the uniform on display as proof.

Said Madden in a recent interview, "He told us that he had gotten the uniform from his father," George Romney, then the Governor of Michigan, whose security detail was staffed by uniformed troopers. "He told us that he was using it to pull over drivers on the road. He also had a red flashing light that he would attach to the top of his white Rambler."

In Madden's recollection, confirmed by his wife Susan, who also attended Stanford during those years, "we thought it was all pretty weird. We all thought, 'Wow, that's pretty creepy.'"

Web Link

A couple alleged students walking by the boy and teasing about a haunted house seems quite tame in comparison, but if true, it's still inappropriate and bullying.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 23, 2012 at 11:30 am

Maybe these athletes have political aspirations.


Posted by another idea..., a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 23, 2012 at 1:00 pm

perhaps you could put your child in bubble wrap and just helicopter around them for their entire life...

So yes, you're making a big deal out of nothing


Posted by Mom too, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 23, 2012 at 1:55 pm

I agree with "another idea..."...

Life is not perfect and fair. At some point, children have to start learning it. The more they wait, the harder it is.

That comment your kid heard at Stanford was stupid, but it sounds that the overall situation was rather benign and safe. Instead of taking it out on whomever, how about turning this into a teaching moment for your kids?

Next to that, yes, I think it's the camp who's in charge of the kids. Talk to them.

You are indeed making a big deal out of nothing.


Posted by What?!, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 23, 2012 at 3:55 pm

How can anyone possibly blame the camp?! These guys were walking past the camp. They were not camp counselors. Lawyers have ruined everyone. Even if someone had confronted them, it's a free country, they have the right to say anything they want, and telling them their comments were scary would not change them. You think they would suddenly have an epiphany and change their approach to life? Get real, get over it.

I am an overly nurturing mom, but realize one can only control their environment so much, and we must learn to accept that most things are out of our control.

By making a big deal out of this, CampParent is adversely affecting her child in numerous ways.

This reminds of the mom who was appalled and angry that a false scarecrow was a person sitting there, dressed up, and scared her 4-year old. Perhaps poor judgement on the scarecrow's part, but Halloween's roots are fear.


Posted by CampParent, a resident of another community
on Jun 23, 2012 at 7:59 pm

Wow - talk about over reactions. Did you even read my post? It seems like a game of telephone that got out of hand here. I didn't call the cops. I didn't raise the roof. I had a "teaching moment" with my child (I explained to my child that these guys were likely joking but to tell the camp counselor if this happens again). I don't fly a helicopter. I do believe my child was telling the truth about those oafs.

Silly me, I thought this was a community forum where I could get some rational feedback. I was posing this here to get feedback, like they do on that tv show "What would you do?" Just what if these guys had not been joking and a child went missing that day? Do you think I could live with myself for not at least taking the time to think this through and bring up my concerns to you folks - my so-called "neighbors"?


Posted by CampParent, a resident of another community
on Jun 23, 2012 at 8:09 pm

One more thing - the point of my posting was to complain about the prevelance of "sick humor" these days. Sorry I am not a better writer and you all ran with the idea of me being scared and over-protective parent. I am not scared, I am angry. I hate so- called "jokes" about harming others and kidnapping. That was the hardest part to explain to a kid why an adult would think something like that was funny. Fine, people's taste in jokes is their business but it became my business when it walked through my child's camp and shouted its way into our ears.


Posted by CampParent, a resident of another community
on Jun 23, 2012 at 8:46 pm

In defense of Stanford Camps and the wonderful counselors: I do NOT blame them. The kids were well supervised and awaiting parent pick-up. My child happened to be at the end of the line and nearest to the passing oafs, and heard the most.

I re-read all of your comments and appreciate much of your insight and advice. I didn't consider posting here as "making a big deal", but just wanted to be sure that I did not take this too lightly. You don't want to over-react but you don't want to the one who did nothing at a time when something may have prevented a terrible thing.

Thanks for hearing me out.


Posted by neighbor, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 23, 2012 at 8:47 pm

@CampParent, I attended an athletic event at Stanford earlier this school year and was appalled at language from male Stanford athletes sitting behind us (they were from another team than that of the event we were watching). We know this from the content of what they were saying (loudly). I am not surprised by your post.
It is also correct that while they may have been Stanford athletes, they may have been part of another camp - universities hold all sorts of training camps in summer on their campuses nowadays (essentially renting out the space to groups, camps).
I think the best course is to speak seriously to your child about how to stay safe.


Posted by CampParent, a resident of another community
on Jun 23, 2012 at 9:17 pm

Thanks neighbor - that's the one good thing that came out of this. I was able to have a good, calm chat with my child about safety, stranger danger, reporting suspicious behavior and trusting your instincts. Sorry your time at the athletic event was marred by those rude athletes. It's a shame.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 23, 2012 at 11:50 pm

In the original posting:

"Still I am disturbed by this and debating whether to make a bigger deal out of it. What would you do?

I decided to post here because I am also shocked that young men (Stanford athletes perhaps? I hope not) are saying things like this in front of kids. . . This sort of sick humor is becoming far too prevalent and I am furious that my child had to hear it."

Using statements such as "debating whether to make a bigger deal out of it" and using words such as "shocked" and "furious" and then posting: "Wow - talk about over reactions. Did you even read my post?"

Yes, it seems people did read your post. I'm glad you calmed down in the end, but don't think it was fair to libel Stanford athletes.






Posted by WTH, a resident of another community
on Mar 12, 2013 at 10:58 pm

Libel? This is not libel. Funny how the reputation of adult Stanford students means more than the safety of young children in Palo Alto. Now I know why outsiders call it "Shallow Alto".


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