No Bubble Wrap Needed


I read an article the other day concerning the kidnapping and murder of Jessica Ridgeway.  And then made the mistake of reading the comments.  Some of them made my stomach hurt, made me sad, made me a little angry. 

If you're unaware -- Jessica Ridgeway is a 10-year-old girl from Colorado who was abducted while walking to school a couple weeks ago.  She was walking THREE BLOCKS to meet her friends and walk the rest of the way to school with them.  Three blocks!  Her mother, a single mom, works overnights and was sleeping when the school called to let her know her daughter wasn't in class that morning.  Her body was found last week.

I can only imagine what that mother is feeling, how severely she is beating herself up.  And for no reason whatsoever

I won't lie to you -- I wouldn't hesitate to let a 10-year-old walk three blocks in an area I deemed to be safe.  Judging from the comments I read on that article, I'm one of the few.  So many people these days seem to want to put their children in a bubble and keep them there.  We are so afraid of the things that probably won't happen that we don't even allow them to have a childhood anymore.

My absolute biggest fear in life is something happening to one of my children.  I don't know how I would survive it.  The thought of them being abducted, sexually assaulted, their body just tossed away?  It makes me physically ill just thinking about it.  But I also know that the odds are that it won't happen.  And I also know there are cases like that of Polly Klaas and Elizabeth Smart, who were both abducted from their own bedrooms.  Their own bedrooms!  With their favorite blankets and stuffed animals and Mom and Dad sleeping down the hall.

I refuse to put my children in a bubble.

Don't get me wrong -- I certainly don't take unnecessary risks with their safety.  But I want to raise children who are strong and independent and I don't want to forsake their childhood because I am too afraid.

People like to say "when I was a kid we could walk to school without problems and "we could play outside all day long in the summer." Guess what? Provided you don't live in an inner city battle zone, most kids still can! At the risk of sounding flippant and crass, pedophiles have always been around. Children have been molested, raped, and murdered since ... since always. The Etan Patz case was recently back in the news. This little boy disappeared while walking to school back before I was even born.

There are not more pedophiles, perverts, murderers, and sick freaks in the world than there were when we were children. The only thing there is more of is a media presence. When I was a kid, the local news came on at 6:00 in the evening. There was no 24 hour consumption. The odds are good that 25 years ago no one outside of Colorado would've heard of Jessica Ridgeway.  Now we have dozens of cable news stations -- not to mention all the internet news sources and social media -- that can deliver us news from all over the world.  The bad stuff, the horrible things that horrible people do to innocent children, are in our faces like never before.

It hurts my heart to know that there are these disgusting people in the world.  It would kill me if anything happened to one of my children.  But I also know the number of stranger abductions is miniscule.  We should - statistically - worry more about the people our children already know.  The best thing we can do is to teach our kids about strangers and teach them about what's okay and not okay for anyone to touch or see on their bodies.  Sending them out into the world in bubble wrap?  Nope.  Not going to work.  Not going to do it.
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