If you’ve been following our blog for a while you might remember a story I shared a couple years ago about my mom being abducted. She was about five or six – it was the early 1950s – and she was walking home alone from school. She attended a Catholic school and naturally wore a Catholic school uniform. She usually walked home with her older sister, but on this particular day, she was by herself. As she walked through downtown (her downtown was probably similar to Jamestown in size), a man approached her and asked if she went to the Catholic elementary school (there was only one such Catholic school in the town). My mom said yes, so he asked if she’d go home with him to meet his “daughter” who was starting school in a few days. Naively, my mom agreed and got in his car.
You can tell this story is not going in the right direction, but thankfully nothing bad happened to my mom. He did drive a short distance with my mom before parking in a field. My mom recalled him asking her strange questions and unbuttoning his pants. The next instant she remembered a pack of dogs running over a hill towards the car. At that moment, the man drove the car back into town and told her to get out. She thinks that pack of dogs may have been a search team, but she wound up blocking the entire experience from her memory for over 18 years. It wasn’t until after she was married when the memories came back.
My mom’s story gives me chills. I recently shared it with a friend who said a similar situation happened to her sister, Tracy, in the early 1970s. Tracy was probably four years old when her mom saw her walking out of a store – willingly – with a grown man she did not know. Her mom called Tracy back into the store, and Tracy said the man was just wanting to show her something cool in his car.
This stuff really does happen. To people we know – not just those we see on TV. It happens now – we see and read about it all the time. It happened 40 and 60 years ago – and it happened way before then.
But why does it seem like this scary stuff happens more now than ever before? Have times changed, or were our parents and grandparents more naive? Does it have to do with the media and the gazillion different ways we have to access information now? I wonder if the rates for these crimes have truly gone up over the past 20 to 30 years or if we just didn’t have a sophisticated way to track those crimes then. Are we (as parents) getting any smarter, or are these bad people the ones getting smarter (in regards to finding and luring our children from safe places)?
When I was my daughter’s age (8), I ruled the ‘hood on my bike and on foot. It kills me not to let my children do the same, but I can’t imagine giving such liberties today. So about a month ago, I posted a question on our Facebook page asking fans how far they would let their child walk unchaperoned in their neighborhood. We received a range of responses which tells me we could really debate this whole subject.
What do you think? Have times changed or is it more of the same? And how many houses would you let your child walk unchaperoned in your neighborhood?