Thursday, May 21, 2009

Speaking from a Heart full of Fear.

Those of you who live here in Canada may be aware of the fate of that poor little girl who went missing approximately 6 weeks ago from her school in Ontario. They actually had video footage of this little girl being calmly led away by a woman.  The angle of the footage was such that her face was unrecognizable.  For the past 6 weeks, her family has been torturing themselves with trying to recognize the woman in the photo.  Hoping that something will click.  Hopping too that since their daughter went with the woman so peacefully that she’s probably okay.  After all, that’s what I thought as I prayed daily for her safe return to her family. 

However, it was announced yesterday that two people were being arrested with the murder of little Tori Stafford while the search continues for her body.

OMG.  Can our hearts possibly break any more?  This poor little girl. 

We hear about murder and destruction so much in our day to day lives that we tend to turn off our emotions, refuse to let it really sink into our hearts and affect us.  If we did, we’d be an emotional ball 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

So what is it about this tragic story that hits so deep?  Besides the death of a child which is always tragic be it from accident, illness or murder.  Why does it send fear into my heart and into the little world that surrounds yours and my families?  

Because this was no random kidnapping!  We can't protect our children from random happenings no more can we protect ourselves.  So we don't worry about possible random events, we shrug it off and go about our lives.  We protect our children using common sense the best we can.  

But you see these horrible, horrible people, knew her parents.  These weren’t strangers.  They were “sort of” strangers.  Familiar enough to Tori that she went with the woman. 

“Sort of” strangers?  How do we arm our children against that?  I listened to a child psychologist on the radio today.  She said we need to educate our children regarding three groups:

  1. People that you know your child will be 100% safe with.
  2. People that you only know “sort of” and it’s okay, if not recommended to be suspicious about them.
  3. Strangers.

 How the hell do I protect my child against “sort of” people?  Do I make up a list and get her to memorize it?  These people we don’t really know so be suspicious of them.  I tell you that list would be a mile long because who do we really, truly know.

A couple of weeks ago I noticed E trying to catch a man’s attention on the school playground.  I had been talking to the moms and E was supposed to be playing on the playground equipment.  I called to her, she didn’t hear me but I could hear her say “excuse me, excuse me” to the man and proceed to talk to him.  Now, I had seen this man around the school ground many times, knew he had a child in kindergarten too but we had NEVER spoken to him.  I walked up to her and asked her what she was doing.  I pointed out to her that this was a STRANGER, that she did not know him and therefore she should not be talking to him.  She was mad at me.  She didn’t know what the big deal was.  She went off pouting.  I turned and said to the man “nothing against you but she needs to learn”.  He seemed to be fine with it and brushed it off as no big deal and indicated that he understood.

As I walked back to the other moms, I was a little embarrassed.  I felt that I had totally overreacted.  E was pouting on the swings still and I was left feeling stupid.  When I told the other mom’s what had been said etc, they assured me that I did the right thing.  Although I felt pretty stupid when I saw that this man’s daughter was in E’s class.  I thought his child was in the French class because we all line up in the same area.  Like I said, we had never talked to him at all. 

E later told me that the teacher told her that if it’s a mom or dad with kids then they are safe to talk to.  Really?  Are you sure about that?  Cause I sure the hell am not!

How do I educate her?  Do I tell her about the death of this little girl and scare the crap out of her so she never talks to anybody that she doesn’t know?  How can I.  How can I destroy even a tiny bit of her innocence?

What scares me even more is that while this year I go right to her class and pick her up and drop her off every day from school, next year I will be expected to wait in the parking lot and let my child come to me. 

Is this what our world has come down to that we have to strip away every teeny bit of independence that they have gained from our children?

Do I now need to start lobbying at my school to change the pick up policies cause I am scared to death, because studies show that no matter how much you teach your children most of them will still be tricked into going with a stranger, because any person that may have crossed your path may just be sick and perverted enough to make off with your child, because I am scared……

Sigh.

Our prayers and our hearts go out to Tori Stafford’s family at this very difficult time.  

May you see justice served. 

9 comments:

  1. I haven't heard of this story, but it is heartbreaking none the less.

    I think that you should do whatever you need to do to protect your child. On the other hand, it gets downright depressing thinking about the world our children have to grow up in, that evil, vile creatures like those people who took that poor little girl, exist.

    Protect your kids!

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  2. I hadn't heard of this. I pray that family is able to find peace some day.

    I overreact regularly to this sort of stuff and I am FINE with it.

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  3. How terribly sad.

    My Husband and I have come up with a "secret word" that the children know and the kids know ONLY to go with another adult/parent/sort of stranger if that adult knows the "secret word". This way, there is no confusion.

    Prayers to the Stafford family.

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  4. That's so horrible. I hope that family finds closure and that you find peace. I agree with Tracy. That's what my parents did, and my dad was a cop. It's frightening how much we have to protect our kids from.

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  5. Thank you for sharing this honest and scared bit of your heart.

    And thank you for posting the information stated by the psychologist. It's so easy to take for granted that our kids are safe. To be so hardened that we don't feel what is really going on around us.

    But you're right. How do we find a medium? I guess prayers are as good a place to start as any.

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  6. Thank you for reminding me about the secret word. I had heard about that years ago but my children are only just now reaching the age where it would be effective.

    Thank you. That really helps!

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  7. This really struck a chord with me. I just posted about something very similar pretty recently. There was a little girl who lived 20 minutes away from us who was kidnapped, raped and killed by a woman who knew the family. Her little girl and the kidnapped girl were friends!! And this woman was a Sunday school teacher (her father was the pastor at the church where she taught). Unbelievable!!! It put the fear of God in me, thinking I can't keep my kids safe from anyone anymore.

    Anyway, in my post, I talked about some safety techniques I taught to my big twins to help them feel empowered in protecting themselves. I'll see if I can find the post and I'll send it to you. One of the techniques was how to fight back and scream no. And to bite any piece of flesh they can get their mouths on. Also, we came up with a secret word that they would need to ask someone if someone were to approach them and say "your parents told me to come pick you up". Also went over what to do if they became lost in a store. Those kinds of things. Oh, I also told them that a stranger is anyone who doesn't know our secret word. Because strangers can look friendly....not all kidnappers look like monsters. I mean, the woman who kidnapped the girl close to us was a family friend!!! So I told my kids even if it's a family friend who wants them to go with them, do not go unless they use the secret word. I hate to be like that but I feel like they have to be protected from everybody these days. Maybe I'm being overprotective but I'd rather it be that than looking back in hindsight and wishing I had done more, kwim?

    Even now, they remember everything. I do little practice drills with them from time to time to make sure it stays fresh in their minds.

    I don't think we really need to scare our children with the details but we definitely need to empower them on how to protect themselves.

    It's scary to think what this world has become.

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  8. Thanks Helene, I'd love to read the post. I really like the secret word idea.

    You're right, they don't need the details but their inquiring little minds certainly WANT the whys and wherefores.. gets tough on how to explain it without explaining.. if you know what I mean. :)

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  9. A heart full of fear is right. What a horrifying story. Have you ever heard of the safety DVD made by the woman who founded Baby Einstein along with the man who hosts America's Most Wanted (and, yes, who had his own child abducted and killed)? It's called Stranger Safety: The Safe Side, or something along those lines, and I personally think it has a pretty good way of handling the whole gray zone between total strangers and people kids can fully trust. Instead of using terms like "stranger," in fact, they use categories: (1) Knows, (2) Don't Knows, and (3) Kinda Knows. I watched it with my daughter, and even though it erred a bit on the side of distrust, I liked the language it gave us for discussing this difficult topic. She's five, and it gave her a pretty good understanding of how to err on the side of caution.

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