Relax. Nobody Wants to Steal Your Kids They’re Sort of Annoying

07.18.11

My parents taught me to not answer the telephone and tell people they weren’t home. My parents taught me to look adults in the eye and offer them a firm handshake. We were basically okay.  All of us.

Right now my daughter is at the mall with her friends. She has $20 and I told her to not buy soda. She’s with a friend, she has a cell phone with her, but no one will answer it.

I can’t GPS my kid (I have an inbox full from devices that will do that) and I won’t keep them home. I’m certainly not going to stroll through every crappy tweenage store in every Westfield mall in Greater Los Angeles.

I also don’t want to hang out while my son plays street hockey for two and half hours. Only nine year old boys can play street hockey for that long, it should be understood that they are to be dropped off for activities that take that long and occur on a blacktop (I don’t need any age spots).

We don’t live in a quiet neighborhood so we had to teach our kids to cross a street. By eight, my son was walking a mile which included crossing a six lane boulevard. For her tenth birthday all Jane wanted was to be left alone in the house. How could I not let my children hit these very important developmental milestones? How could I deprive them of the opportunity to mature?

Last week a boy was abducted by a stranger and died. This is hideous, it’s tragic, and it’s made a lot of really great moms feel afraid for their own children.

I’d like you to indulge me a moment and just look at your children. What makes you think that a stranger would look at them walking down the street and think I have to steal that child? Mine would be pretty uncooperative. Make sure yours would be too.

The reality is that our cities are safer now than they’ve ever been. The greatest risks to our children lie within our own four walls. Child abductions are almost exclusively the territory of non custodial parents and people we’ve invited into our families.

What has increased in the past forty years is reporting. We report crimes that we used to hide. Children now are empowered to tell their parents, teachers and physicians about the people who have touched them. Young women no longer call it “date rape” as the girls of my generation did, they call it rape. My mother’s generation didn’t have a name for it. It’s what you deserved.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

Thirty years ago there was no CNN so if you heard about an abduction it was on the national evening news or within your community. Parents in Los Angeles didn’t hear about a runaway teen in Nashville unless there was something extraordinary about the case. The twenty four hour news cycle can’t possibly run a headline like “2.2 Billion Children had an Uneventful Day”.

The next time someone tells you that the world is more dangerous today please ask them how it’s more dangerous. They don’t really know that to be true. It’s horrific that Leiby Kletzky was murdered, but what would be most horrific would be if we all stopped really living.