Are stranger danger warnings creating a 'culture of fear'?

Police, parents and schools are on high alert after a man attempted to abduct an 11-year-old girl on Tuesday as she walked to school in Auckland.

Police say they "encourage parents to talk with their children about how to get to and from school safely" - however this had Three's The Project host Jesse Mulligan wondering if we are damaging children with a "culture of fear".

"Our kids aren't born with that fear, they have to be taught it," he said on the show. "We teach them - I teach them - to be afraid of men they don't know."

However Mr Mulligan said this fear comes with a "massive price tag - distrust, a loss of community, a disconnection with your neighbours".

Police Inspector Paula Holt told The Project abductions are extremely rare.

"Stranger danger is an outdated concept," she said. "Police haven't use that since the late 1980s. It's discredited, and it's potentially dangerous."

Host Kanoa Lloyd said a better thing to do is empower children to be able to pick out the "goodies from the baddies".