My heart just breaks when I hear about these kinds of things. I have kids (six of them) and I am constantly paranoid about something like this happening to them. Jessica Ridgeway is your typical 5th grader. She was on her way to school when life changed forever.
A 3 block walk shouldn't be anything to worry about...Heck, I send my 4 elementary kids (walking about 3 blocks) to school, not even thinking about it....But on THIS day (Friday October 5th) Every parents worst nightmare came true.
Jessica never made it to school....Her short walk to meet friends was interrupted.
Her mother...Who works nights, missed the call from the school, notifying her that Jessica was absent.
I have read comments from those criticizing the school for not doing more....I know it's easy to try to place blame SOMEWHERE...But the school did what ANY school does. There was NO WAY for the school to know that Jessica was absent for anything more than a doctors appointment.
They left a message, and the day continued on....
Hours went by...And when Jessica's mom got the message from the school, she called the police.
It is now late into day 3 and searchers have found no hints of where Jessica could be.
So what happened? I play the scenario out in my mind over and over. Was she lured close to a persons car, who then forced her inside? Did she go willingly with someone she thought she could trust?
How can parents protect their kids? Does "Stranger Danger" really work?
I say it only works, if you constantly and consistently help your child understand safe and unsafe situations. I know that when I asked my almost 10 yr old "What is a stranger?" She responded with, "Someone who is mean and ugly."
That surprised me--
"What if a nice looking, friendly person came up to you...and wanted you to go in their car....?"
Confused, my little girl looked at me---
So we had a discussion-- AGAIN, about what a stranger is.
*A Stranger is ANYONE you don't know.
*NEVER and I REPEAT NEVER get into a car with someone, unless Mommy or Daddy specifically say it's ok.
*If a "stranger" comes up to you and starts talking....Find another adult. (We talked about when one on one - adult to child conversations are ok....like at school, drs appnts, counselors office etc)
It's inappropriate for an adult to ask a child for help...Like finding a "lost" dog, asking for directions, or offering candy if they go for a ride.
Awareness is the key to keeping safe. The more you talk about what "Stranger Danger" means, the more your child will know the difference between safe and unsafe situations.
I hope and pray that Jessica Ridgeway is found safe....Please keep your children safe and talk to them...Test them...And make sure you know where they are and who they are with....Don't just trust the situation...Take the extra steps to KNOW the situation...
Thrive On Jessica...Our family is praying for you!