Recent kidnappings give cause to pause

Some events in your lifetime make you evaluate what is most important to you. One of these events was the recent kidnappings of little girls in our state and in our neighboring state of Colorado.

It is frightening how many sick people are preying on children. This scares me as mother but also as the aunt of children reaching from not even 1-year-old to 15-years-old. It makes me wonder how I can keep my child safe, and, more importantly, how to educate children to prevent harm.

Each moment is precious

My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Jessica Ridgeway, a Westminster girl, who left for school on a Friday morning but never arrived. Sadly, a few days later it was confirmed her body was found. I cannot even grasp the pain her parents are enduring. To me, this is the most horrifying event that could happen. It changes your entire life and puts the natural order of things in a tailspin. I think Denzel Washington in the movie “John Q” said it best: “This is not right, and it is unnatural. When the time comes, our children should bury us. Never ever should a parent have to bury their child for any reason.” I think it is clear for many of us this hits home, for it makes us hold our children even tighter and makes us realize every single moment with them is precious. It leaves us with big questions: How can we keep our children safe? How can we protect them from all that is evil in this world? Why are people out there who would do such despicable things to someone’s child or, in some cases, to their own child?

We should not underestimate the power of teaching our children

The recent chain of abductions made me talk to my little girl, and I tried my best to explain to her what to do and how to react when someone, whom she doesn’t know, tries to persuade her in any way. She is 3-years-old, so I don’t know how much of what I told her was understood, but I know this will be an ongoing conversation throughout our lifetime. At some point as a parent you realize no matter how hard you try, you cannot protect your child from all the potential pitfalls and harm she can encounter, and quite frankly it makes you feel rather helpless. Educating our children about potential dangers and pitfalls must be an ongoing conversation, and all you can do is pray the worst case scenario never happens. I remember one day my daughter and nephew were playing outside. One minute they were within sight; the next minute I could not find them. I walked all over the five-acre property with calling their names and looking for them. Some 20 minutes into the search, still no answer from the little ones, I started to panic, hyperventilate and rehearsing what I should do next in my mind.

Keeping calm is key

Suddenly, I heard two little giggles come from an old truck on the property. There I found they were playing truck drivers and never heard my calls. Needless to say, I was both relieved and upset. I might have scared them with my reaction because I tend to cry when I am mad. They received the longest lecture in their young lives and were on their best behavior for the next few days.

This incident alone frightened me to the point at which I watch them like a hawk. Further, it was a valuable lesson for me because I realized I needed to keep composure and make sure I remember what steps to take first and go through all the places they could possibly hide. This day ended on a good note with my finding my daughter and my nephew, but for too many parents their nightmares are just beginning.

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