|You might recognize the Picasso in Daley Plaza from the car chase scene from the movie, The Blues Brothers.|
I am hesitant to write this blog post because it's not related to creativity or fun stuff in any way. But frankly, I'm still feeling rattled by the incident and sometimes it's good to vent about these things. And if there is a learning curve in here somewhere, for myself or anyone reading this, then that is well worth the price of any awkwardness raised by what I'm about to write.
So I'll just come out and say it: Last week I was taking a break with a friend over at Daley Plaza when a man attempted to kidnap a small child. The perpetrator was a total stranger. It's the sort of thing you see in the movies and assume you would know what to do in real life...but that just isn't the case.
Thank goodness her father saw what was happening, tackled the guy, chased him down and flagged the police before he got away. You can read a full account here. It's pretty creepy. What rattles me is knowing that this all went down less than 100' away from me, clear in my line of sight, and I didn't even notice it.
In fact, neither one of us realized the extent of what had gone on until we saw the police commotion down the street and read the details in the paper the next day. Clearly this situation was the result of an individual with rampant mental illness, but that does not make the incident any less disturbing or excusable.
So what am I trying to say here?
No 1. Props to all you parents out there. No, seriously. I never understood that phrase, "Having a kid like letting your heart walk around outside your chest." But now, I think I just might get it.
No 2. One of the reasons that child's father was able to prevent the abduction is because he saw it happen. His daughter was too young to look away for even a minute. Had she been a year or two older, maybe that would not have been the case. Maybe he would have been checking his phone or paying attention to his other children at that moment. Who knows what could have happened. Thank goodness she is alright.
So...since last week I have found myself cruising the internet looking up all sorts of articles and information on child abduction. That must seem pretty weird to you considering the fact that I don't have any children, but it's all I can do to ease some frantic sense of urgency that this sort of thing could happen any minute. And here is the really scary part: it happens all the time. A child goes missing or is abducted every 40 seconds in the United States.
Look, I don't want to be an alarmist. I don't. I won't. But if you have little kids at home, can you do me a favor? As soon as your kids are old enough, please teach them to look for strangers.
Note: I said look for strangers. I did not say teach your kids "Don't talk to strangers." Most folks my age grew up knowing the latter, but really, it's the looking you want them to know about.
As a non-Mom, I'm not about to give advice on this subject. I am, however, going to direct you to a website busting with oodles of information that I'll bet my parents never knew. If you want a synopsis read this: "Tricky People" Are The New Strangers from ChecklistMommy. What it all boils down to is that your child's ability to spot and avoid "tricky people" is the most effective way for them to prevent harm in the first place. A child's self-reliance is always the first, last, and best line of defense.
Stuff my parents never knewLook, I know we all grew up knowing about Stranger Danger, but you need to realize that those "Strangers" were kids once and they all grew up learning the same warning signs as you.....well, now what do you do?
I don't know.
As a latch-key-kid, I grew up with an overly-protective father who insisted on me wearing shoes with hefty heels at all times, even to the beach, because 1. He thought they would make the difference if I ever had to run away from something or someone and 2. "They'll do more damage if you have to kick someone in the eyes" (his words -- not mine). I have an uncle who taught me how to bust up a grown man's kneecap with the single jab of a fork. Another uncle who showed me I could disable a car by ripping a button off my shirt and jamming it in the ignition slot. I have lived in pristine wilderness and rough urban neighborhoods and taken every survival precaution I could think of. Currently, as a single woman living in a major city, I know dozens of tricks for keeping myself safe from harm. I have taken adult self defense classes and even spent a birthday or two a firing range. A week ago, if you had asked me if I was comfortable defending myself and those around me, I would have said "Yes."
Now I'm not so sure.
I don't want to end this on a down note, so I am going to ask you to just take a second and think about it. What would you do if you, or someone you knew, or someone right in front of you, was hurt or harmed in some way? How would you react? Don't assume you will be a hero. Don't assume you will even know that it happened. Just think about it and put a plan in place as best you can. God forbid something should ever happen, you might just know what to do.
OK. That's it. Stepping off my soap box now. Thank for hearing me out, guys. I don't like to bring up bad news but sometimes there is stuff worth saying...
Hugs to you and yours,