If you think Waco is a hotbed of homelessness you should try SF or Portland.
Look- some good points in this thread. I think:
Be firm, but polite. Preserve what dignity this person might have remaining. I always use a flat "no thanks". Note how I typed that out. Not "NO THANKS!"- just a flat, level, "no thanks". Don't elaborate. Our business is concluded. Farewell. I mean- do you do everything that anybody tells you to do? Really? Healthy boundaries and all that....
I'm pretty sure how *we* respond can influence how they will respond. Life is full of lessons like that. Are we really letting the urchin decide what the next step is? JammerSix isn't blaming the victim- he's making a very, very fine point that I think many people miss.
WallMart parking lots are full of low-level scammers like this. Most of these types aren't even truly homeless- they're living locally, or motel-dwelling, and their panhandling pays the rent. If we had to assign a real number to the percentage of those folks who are real opportunistic criminals- what do we suppose that number is? 2% ? Annoyance? High. Real risk? Low.
By the way- your daughter did just fine. At the end of the day she went home, nobody had to go to the emergency room to get the interocular pressure in their left eye checked...a security guard had to walk to the parking lot- oh well.
And guys- if we're really that concerned about the ladies in our lives- please remember the statistics on who is most likely to assault them. It's someone they know. Not a stranger.