Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Stranger Danger

Near Kaitlyn's school there has been a stranger danger alarm out.  Since Friday, a white man in his 30s driving a white, windowless cargo style van has made at least 4 reported attempts to abduct girls between the ages of 7 and 10.  He pulls up to them, offers them a ride to school and when they say no, demands they get in the car.  Fortunately, each time, the girls have been smart and educated enough to run away and get away.  He has driven off without an adult witness seeing him, without a license plate number being recorded, and without the police being able to find him.  All of the attempts have been in the same area.  All in broad daylight.  All with girls.

Each time there is an attempted abduction, the school calls each and every parent that has an up to date phone number on file.  The news has carried it extensively.  The police have been involved to the point of having several patrol cars around the school (and I'm sure other schools in the area) and the schools have been doing stranger danger teaching in addition to urging parents NOT to let their kids walk home alone.

Even so, yesterday I saw at least a dozen young girls, from Kindergarten on up walking home by themselves. Not even with a buddy.  It absolutely terrified me.  And I totally get that those parents don't care any less for their kid, and who knows what situations prevent them from being able to arrange for afterschool pick up for their child, but it still terrifies me.  I want to give them each a can of pepper spray, a super loud whistle, a taser, something.  Anything.

And it has led to a lot of discussions at home about stranger danger.  This is something we've done since Kaitlyn was in preschool.  One of our biggest lessons is just because someone says they are something doesn't mean they are.  If someone says they are a police officer, if they are in uniform ask for a badge, if they aren't, run.  Always run.  If you can't, kick, scream, bite, punch and do anything you can to be able to run.  If someone goes to the school and says "I'm a friend of your mommy's, she's hurt/sick/dead/crazy and told me to pick you up,"  Run.

But, the hardest part has been stressing that 90% of adults are ok, honest and want to only help protect kids in the community, it's that darned 10% that are sneaky little bastards that should be strung up by their toes, shot and then swarmed by starving black widows.

I'm not one to believe that kidnappings and violent crimes against children are up, or that the world today isn't as safe as it was 20-50 years ago, more that the media has made us so much more aware of the evil in the world and how prevalent it is.  And I'll tell you, it terrifies me to know that in 3 years Kaitlyn will be in middle school.  If the past 7 years have flown by, it's unlikely the next 3 are going to all of a sudden slow down and give us a break.  And after that it's driving.  In 8 years, she can get her permit.  Um.  What?  In 8 years she can drive around with Samantha in the car listening to whatever the Justin Beiber of the year is?  No Thanks.

I digress....

Stranger Danger is very real.  It's very scary and as parents it's our job to both teach our kids that strangers are scary, but that sometimes you have to trust them.  In the real world, eventually we have to start seperating ourselves from our kids some.  Eventually, they have to start school (unless you home school) or start daycare, or an activity where you cannot be attached to their hand.  What are your methods?

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