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

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.


9 thoughts on “Relax. Nobody Wants to Steal Your Kids They’re Sort of Annoying”

  1. The best part of your post is when you said “Mine would be pretty uncooperative. Make sure yours are too.” There are some sick people in this world. It’s our job as moms / parents to teach our children – particularly our young daughters – that it’s OK to fight back. Make noise. Scream. Yell. Run. We are so hellbent on teaching manners, which are important, that we often forget that manners should be tossed out the window when a child is approached by a potential predator. Great post.

  2. I do have real concerns about my neighborhood, and I’m confused about what to do at what age, (my daughter is five)  but I am with you on the rational side of my brain.  I had a set back both for my daughter emotionally and for me, when she got hurt at my parents house and they refused to acknowledge that her injury was important even to her.  So, I feel like right now, if you can’t trust your parents who can you trust?  I don’t know how to tell my daughter it’s okay to trust other people either.  But your right about things having changed.  I’m actually still surprised sometimes that she told me. That in itself is a victory.

  3. I’m so torn about all this.  We had decided to let our son walk/ride his bike to school this upcoming year (2nd grade).  We live a mile away, on the same street as our school and the only time he’d have to cross an intersection is with the crossing guard.  My husband works out of the house, and so do I three days per week.  He was so excited.  And now?  I don’t know.  I want to do the right thing, keep him safe, and allow for his emerging independence. 

  4. You’re absolutely right. Teach your kids the best you can and chose not to live hiding in a hole. People are confused at what’s really happening to the world today. It has gotten more dangerous. It’s just gotten smaller. A lot smaller.

  5. When my girls were oh-so-little, I adopted this philosophy. They’re 13 and 15, and safe. And strong.


    Bc I taught them not to embrace “respect for their elders”? Or because we were lucky?


    But I’m so thankful that they are 13 and 15 and safe. And so glad that they weren’t reduced to a fearful existence to get there.

  6. It’s really more about opportunity than it is about “that kid” being chosen.  I think that like with everything else in life, we need to find a balance, use our common sense and above all, listen to our maternal instinct.  I’ve raised 5 children in different parts of the US and Europe.  I definitely erred on the side of caution when it came to protecting them, and they are all strong, independent and productive adults. “Better safe than sorry” was my motto. So far I haven’t had to dip into the “therapy fund” to help them adjust as adults.  

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