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The story of crazy rumors. The endless return of the white van used to kidnap children

A white van on a street in Paris. (JEAN-CHRISTOPHE BOURDILLAT / RADIO FRANCE)

At the beginning of December, on Reunion Island, social networks went wild: kidnapping, young girl, white van … In March, it was in Seine-Saint-Denis that the white van appeared. So this is the story of a white van, driven by Roma or not, who would kidnap children on leaving school. In Île-de-France, Reunion, or elsewhere in the past, there is beating for rumors, most often. But not always because there are really kidnappings of children and that white is the dominant color in the range of six million commercial vehicles in France!

So statistically, there is more risk of a criminal kidnapping a child in a white van than a red sports car.

The specialist in urban legends Aurore van de Winkel observed that only details related to culture changed: In the United States, in the 80s, we do not speak of white van, it is in France and Belgium, at the continuation of the Fourniret and Dutroux cases, but we mention ice cream vans. With kidnappers possibly disguised as clowns. In the 60s and 70s, in Russia, Poland, Hungary and roughly in the Eastern bloc countries, no white van, but a black Volga (which was the best-selling car at the time) .

If this rumor travels and adapts, and that it leads to slippages, it is paradoxically out of benevolence because it is necessary to protect children, and that one can never be too careful, especially to make them get into the skull you never get in a stranger's car. No wonder that social networks at times collapse under warning messages against a white utility, crushing the denials of the authorities.

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