Young girl's 'Help me' sign in car window is not what it seems

The girl "thought it was a fun thing to do," according to California highway police.
/ Source: TODAY

A child’s backseat prank triggered a huge police response — and authorities aren’t laughing.

"***Things that make you say hmmmm,*” the South Sacramento California Highway Patrol wrote in a now-viral post on its Facebook page.

At around 5 p.m. Saturday, the highway patrol received a call that there was a young girl holding up a handwritten sign that read, “HELP ME SHE’S NOT MY MOM!! Help!!”

Believing the child was in danger, several CHP officers and a K-9 unit pulled the car over, according to the release.

But it was soon determined that the girl "had made it all up and thought it was a fun thing to do," CHP said. The mother, who was driving, was unaware of what her daughter was doing, and they were allowed to leave the scene.

“This is a reminder that parents need to be aware of what their children are doing in the back seat at all times,” the highway patrol said. “Six CHP units were assigned to this call instead of responding to legitimate calls or patrolling their beats because of this hoax. #notfunny. #beawareofyour kids #242motorsquad #why?”

More than 2,000 people responded to the Facebook post. Many accused CHP of mom-shaming.

"There is no way for a parent to know exactly what their child is doing at all times AND be an attentive driver. It's an unfortunate situation and you handled it well at the scene, but you missed the mark with your blame game. The parent's attention was where it was supposed to be.... on the road," wrote one person.

Added another, “A little unfair to expect a parent to be aware of exactly what your child is doing in the back seat while they are trying to concentrate on traffic and the road ahead of them! Better to teach children how dangerous and problematic this kind of behavior is."

Others felt police let the child off too easy, with some saying she should have to give back to the community.

One person wrote, “Fine the driver (mom) or give her a ticket. Make that child work some hours of community service. ‘I’m sorry’ doesn’t cut it. That child needs some repercussions. She’s old enough to write, she can work in the community.”