Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Risk Worth Taking?

In today's New York Times, there was an article discussing the dilemma many parents face as the school year begins: to escort your kids to school or not. In an unattended moment, a child could fall, or be careless when crossing the street, but what everybody's really fearing is that some d-mned child predator will whisk him or her away without a trace. While I do want to foster independence and autonomy in my son, I know I would literally die if he were to disappear. I think I have at least 3 or 4 years to brook the issue, and in the meantime, I feel like squirming away from the issue because he's too young to walk by himself now anyway.

I do want to take issue with one point in the article, though: "Critics say fears that children will be abducted by strangers are at a level unjustified by reality. About 115 children are kidnapped by strangers each year, according to federal statistics; 250,000 are injured in auto accidents." The author has quotes from media and crime experts who say TV shows and news media sensationalize child abductions, and implies by that factoid, I think, that parents should worry more about auto accidents and stop hovering at the bus stop.

While I am, obviously, passionate about passenger safety, I don't like the implication that kidnapping is a trivial issue. Yes, there are more auto accidents than stranger abductions, but a child can be injured in an auto accident and survive. Their parents can see and touch their child and have an idea of what will happen, for better or worse. And there are also some children who, tragically, do not survive. Still, their parents know what happened to them.

But to have your child just disappear without a trace is beyond terrifying, beyond heartbreak. To have no closure, no resolution, to not know if your child is in pain, is in danger, is dead. Like Jaycee Dugard's mom, or Etan Patz's mom. I just don't know how I could bear it.

Even if it's "just" 115 children a year, I just can't risk my child being one of them.

... so yeah, I'm gonna walk with him for a good long freakin' time.

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