Recently, the suburb in which my husband and I live was the scene of a grisly child kidnapping and murder. Only months earlier there had been reports of a man trying to pick up young boys in his blue sedan. Well, after the little girl was abducted and murdered the man in the blue sedan showed back up one suburban town south of here and again attempted to pick up a young boy. Several northern towns away, another man was spotted, this one older and in a red truck, trying to lure children into his vehicle.
A lot of the parents in the area have been flipping out, wondering what happened to our safe little suburb. They’re now terrified to let their children out of their sights. Some parents are even naïve enough to believe this is all one perpetrator when the MO’s of the suspects are entirely different. One is a younger man who likes little boys and tries to lure them with candy into his car. The other is a psychotic killer. The third is an older man. Could any of them be the same person? Sure they could be. But that’s not necessarily the case. It could be that there is definitely more than one sick creeper out there. So if they catch one, I wouldn’t be so quick to assume that suddenly the streets are safe and the children are free from danger.
Why? Because this danger has ALWAYS existed in this place. How do I know? I was born and raised here. Both my sister and I, on two separate occasions when we were children, were approached by creepers whose sole intent was to abduct a child. When I was eight a man tried to lure my friend and I into a car with candy. When my sister was four (that same year), my sister was approached by a man who tried to take her right out of our front yard. That was back in 1980 – 32 years ago. So you see, this small suburban city has never been a safe place to allow your children to walk to school or even play outside the house unsupervised. What saved both my sister and I (who could have just as easily ended up murdered) was a healthy dose of mistrust for strangers and the fact that our parents worked from home and we were at, or near, home when these incidents happened.
Even then, I still ended up being molested by a trusted neighbor and family friend who, luckily, wasn’t violent.
So I grew up knowing I was never safe. I was never afforded that grand illusion so many are. I am still very wary of strangers – even at age 40. I won’t answer my door to people I don’t know and if I see anyone lurking around my house who doesn’t belong (which has had rare occasion to happen), I generally load the gun and call the police. Perhaps that’s abnormal (to be so untrusting), but you have to understand how I was raised. For the first sixteen years of my life, my parents ran their business out of our home.
Their business included running the impound yard for several local police departments. I remember nights where drunks would be pounding on our door wanting their car at two-thirty in the morning . I remember one incident where the FBI staked out our impound yard from our house so they could catch a guy who they thought murdered several people. The front of our house/office has been shot at. I’ve seen gang bangers and drug addicts come in and out to get their impounded vehicles. For years, my parents and their employees have held-up “wanted customers” until the police or feds showed up to arrest them for everything from murder to rape. Quite recently, the Russian mafia blew up a car in our impound yard.
My life growing up (and even now, since I help out with the business part-time) ended up instilling in me a healthy dose of caution.
The level of human depravity does not surprise me anymore. As a matter of fact, I’ve learned to expect it. So while the abduction and murder of a child in my own backyard is disconcerting (especially since I have nieces and nephews whose safety I always worry about), unlike most in my community, I don’t feel any less safe than I felt several weeks ago, or thirty years ago because I’ve always known that it only takes one sick and twisted individual to take my life or the life of someone I care about. I’ve never felt completely “safe”. I also know, sadly, just how many sick and fucked up people are out there. When you see them day in, day out for the bulk of your life, one more murder, while it’s horrific and a terrible tragedy, is not a surprise. Not even when it’s in your community.
So when those parents out there talk about how they no longer feel safe I can only say – you were never safe. All that’s really been lost is your “illusion” of feeling safe. The world is full of creepers and bad guys. The best you can do is teach your kids to be aggressive, loud, and wary when approached by strangers and to kick, bite, and scream if anyone ever grabs them or touches them inappropriately. Then pray to the God(s) of your understanding that they have the good sense to run from strangers (or molesters who may not be strangers at all) and that they have the good fortune of being able to get away.
Sure, you can be extra safe and not let them out of your sight, but just remember that you have to send them out into the world at some point. You can’t watch them 24/7 no matter how much you want to. Even adults, babysitters and neighbors that you and your children trust can be creepers, folks! Your kids should learn early on that the world is not a safe place, so they’re not caught off-guard. Not to mention there are just as many twisted individuals who kidnap, rape, and murder men and women as those who do it to children.
Basically – none of us is safe (we never have been), but we can’t live in fear all our lives either. Just be cautious and never allow yourself to feel so safe that you’re oblivious to the creepers.