Is the Etan Patz case the reason I am a paranoid mom?

I was 7-years-old when 6-year-old Etan Patz disappeared in New York City. He was taken less than two blocks from his home on the first day he walked to the school bus stop alone.

I had never heard of Etan before last week when I started following the reports about police digging up a near-by basement looking for evidence of the little boy’s death 33 years later. (Here’s the latest on their search.)

However, I was very aware of the missing and murdered children in Atlanta around the same time. I remember telling me mother that I was scared I would be kidnapped and killed during that time.

Some experts say that the Etan Patz, the missing and murdered children in Atlanta, Adam Walsh and Polly Klaas cases “catapulted concern about missing children to the forefront of national consciousness” and made parents anxious and paranoid about losing their children.

From CNN:

“It awakened America,” said Ernie Allen, president and chief executive officer of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. “It was the beginning of a missing children’s movement…”

“The cases received increasing news coverage in a fast-changing landscape that saw a proliferation of media outlets with growing interest in compelling visual images — such as a heart-rending photo of a smiling child or video of parents pleading for their child’s safe return.”

“The actual number of children who were kidnapped and killed did not change — it’s always been a relatively small number — but awareness of the cases skyrocketed, experts said….”

Barbara Friedman, associate professor of University of North Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said such “heinous crimes are always newsworthy” and “have been reported in the press for as long as there has been a press.”

“As media became more plentiful and visual in the 1980s, child abductions and child murders allowed for the kinds of images that are at once intimate and universal — like school photos and grieving families,” Friedman said.

“The use of milk cartons as another form of media to locate missing children was a way to bring the issue into the family space — the breakfast table — heightening awareness as well as anxieties.”

So I am fascinated by this analysis. (The Associated Press has a similar one.) Is this the reason I am so protective (over-protective?) of my kids? Are these cases the reason I won’t let my kids go to the park alone or wander several neighborhoods over?

I find the professor’s comments very interesting about how bringing the missing kids on the milk cartons into the family space made it more stressful for families. (I have often heard that about television and the Vietnam War – that the news reports being watched over dinner made it all too real.)

I try to think I need to relax. They are fine. But then you hear about another child missing. (A 6-year-old is missing from her bed in Tucson this weekend.) Or you get a robo-call from your school district about a white truck repeatedly approaching girls on the street after school. (That happened last year here.)

I love the last quote in the CNN story because I really do feel this way – it could happen to my child any time.

“I think it ended an era of innocence in this country,” Ernie Allen said. “Parents around the nation saw how it happened and thought, ‘But for the grace of God, my child.’”

Did your remember the Etan Patz story as a child? Did you grow up with fear of becoming one of Atlanta’s missing and murdered children? Do you remember the Adam Walsh case and Polly Klaus? (I actually do remember both of those?)

Do you agree with this analysis from CNN that those cases made parents paranoid about letting their kids out of their sight?

47 comments Add your comment


April 23rd, 2012
12:48 am

Did these cases make parents paranoid? YES and rightfully so! I was almost abducted as a child by a man in a car claiming my mom was rushed to the hospital! Fortunately I remembered my mother’s words never to go with a stranger and the knowledge that my mother would never send a stranger to pick me up. I was definately over-protective of my kids because of this but who could blame me? They’re fine well adjusted adults now thank goodness!


April 23rd, 2012
4:17 am

Kids are definitely sheltered today at their expense. When I was a kid, we played ball in the (non-busy) street, had paper routes, shoveled snow, mowed lawns, and drove our bicycles EVERYWHERE including across town to the park for sports practice. If we told our parents that we wanted to play video games inside, they would kick us out of the house. We knew not to talk to strangers and told our parents if anyone unusual was around; the same way Marie was protected. Today kids don’t even Trick or Treat. It’s sad.


April 23rd, 2012
7:02 am

Aware is a better word. And we have to be. Antonio Ramos is not unique. Neither is Richard Allen Davis or David Westerfield. To pretend these scumbag byproducts of childhood abuse and neglect don’t exist is dangerous! Our children can’t live in a bubble but we also have to give them the truth and the tools to stay safe.


April 23rd, 2012
7:04 am

Do I think that is why you are as you are? No, Theresa, I don’t.

Yolanda Weiner

April 23rd, 2012
7:27 am

Protection is one thing. Over-protection is another. We all must contribute to a more safe society. Can I get an AMEN?!!


April 23rd, 2012
7:42 am

I do remember the etan patz case. I’m from NY it was everywhere for so long.
The answer is – written above. So many FEWER kids are abducted today than they were years ago.

And now what are you teaching your kids? That the only way they are okay is in your sight. That the only way they are okay is if you are there.
I know kids growing up like that. They are afraid of their own shadow. They are afraid to say hello to anyone. They are afraid to do anything. They have NO confidence. In a few years will that be your blog post?
I don’t know what happened, but my teenager has no confidence that he/she can do anything. They don’t know how to handle themselves in social situations. They don’t know how to talk to people.
You are making your children like that.

Read It’s AWESOME.

Because – what kind of person do you want your child to be? Paranoid like you? Or wanting to explore the world because it’s there? It’s craziness what parents do to their kids these days.
My kids will walk up to people, in certain situations (because we taught them which ones! imagine that!) – and say hello, my name is such and such what is yours? Etc…
I know kids much older than them who were taught how fraught with danger that is and are so scared of their own shadows they wouldn’t dream of it.
And parents who then admire my kids’ qualities. And just chalk it up to the ‘fact’ that those kids are just different.
They’re different because I taught them differently. What you do to your children lasts.


April 23rd, 2012
7:53 am

I agree. I keep my children indoors as much as possible. No trips to the mall, McDonalds, parks etc. The world is a scary place and I never allow my children out of my sight. At bedtime, we all sleep in the same bed, when they shower I make sure Im in the bathroom with them, however, they do have their privacy behind the shower curtain.

We MUST protect the children, at all costs.


April 23rd, 2012
7:57 am

Every so often I get a twinge of paranoia/fear. Like the the other day my 11 year old wanted to walk around the neighborhood because they were having a neighborhood wide garage sale and he wanted to look around. My first instinct was HELL NO! Because a big garage sale like this one, that is advertised and is in a nice area attracts all kinds of people that normally wouldn’t be here. So I was scared.

But in the end, I let him go. He took my cell phone and he texted me his wherabouts regularly. Nothing happened. But my paranoia not only stems from the fear of something happening, but of something happening and the police and others blaming me because I let my child walk around the neighborhood alone. You can just hear the judging.

I want my kids to be independent and secure and self-confident, and I know that can’t happen if I don’t give them some freedoms. We talked about “stranger danger”, we practiced, and reasonably confident he would never get in a stranger’s car. But still…I try to keep my fears in check by remembering that when I was 13, I took public transportation to school every day in a 3rd world country in a city brimming with 10 million people.


April 23rd, 2012
7:59 am

Eve, I hope you are just trolling and not actually serious.


April 23rd, 2012
8:03 am

I took the time to put up a fine comment and it did not see print.


April 23rd, 2012
8:15 am

I too had never heard of Etan Patz. I just stayed at a hotel in Wyoming that hosted 2 weddings while I was there. I looked outside ( from my 3d floor room facing the mountain) on Saturday night and saw a 2-3 year old out there who was all alone. Adults were inside with drinks and food. There was a sign posted near the back door that wild animals were outside, so please be careful. I mentioned it to the front desk…she told me that they had coyotes and lots of rattlesnakes. Not sure why anyone would let a 3 year old outside to wander behind a strange hotel at night. Guess there are parents on both ends of the spectrum.

david c

April 23rd, 2012
8:16 am

Methinks Eve is just having fun at the expense of all you paranoid “mommies”. And atlmom, good for you for not raising more paranoid, intolerant fools.


April 23rd, 2012
8:49 am

I agree with Catlady.

I also agree with the one who said we are more aware.

I turned the church upside down yesterday looking for my child (one of the teens found her in a dark room I had checked twice!). I was concerned and certainly headed to worry…..but had not hit panic yet. Certainly not paranoid about it.


April 23rd, 2012
9:06 am

I agree 100% with John.

I guess I’m a relaxed parent, never been paranoid, worried someone would snatch my kids. My kids are “street” smart. They have common sense. We have allowed them to figure out solutions to situations. We don’t solve their problems. We guide them, but we allow them to solve their problems. Let them figure out what to do. They know we are there anytime they need us, but we are not by any means over-protective, or the dreaded “helicopter” parent.

We do establish boundaries. That’s our job. Their job is to “push the envelope” and it’s our job, again, to stop the envelope from falling off the table….

I would not want to harm my children by keeping them inside. They need to be out playing, creating, imagining, and learning to solve problems themselved.


April 23rd, 2012
9:07 am



April 23rd, 2012
9:09 am

@ david c.. not sure what paranoid has to do with intolerant.

Of course these cases have a powerful effect on us as parents. I don’t remember the Etan Patz case but I clearly remember Adam Walsh. There is nothing more terrifying than the though of your child being abducted, missing. The complete helplessness of not knowing where your child is, not knowing what is happening to him/her. Who remembers the Madeleine McCann case in Portugal? OMG I was so heartbroken for that family. My daughter is the exact same age as Madeleine and I still think of what it must be like for her family to never know what happened to her.

As parents we all have different ideas on what it means to be paranoid vs. safe. Would you allow your six yr old to play video games at a dept. store while you walk a couple of isles away? That’s what Adam Walsh’s mother did. I know of two cases where kids were grabbed at Target or Walmart just within the past two years not far from my home. Thankfully both kids got away by screaming and yelling (one made the news). So, there is an argument for trusting a child and providing them with skills to care for themselves. Still, if either of those children ended up dead in a ditch, would we not completely blame the parent for walking away and not watching them?

My friend knows of a 10 yr old in Florida whose throat was slit in the boys bathroom while his aunt waited outside. This friend took her boy to the women’s bathroom a lot longer than I did with my son just because of this one incident. I couldn’t blame her. That incident had a profound effect on her.

I try to think through things and try to rationally and reasonably think of what is safe and what is not. For example, my kids sell tomatoes every summer. On a main road. Our house sits too far off the road for me to see them. I never let them stay out there alone and make them sit together at all times. I am terrified that someone is going to grab one of them (especially my daughter who is only 8). I don’t think that it is unreasonable to suspect that a beautiful 8 yr old sitting on the side of the road by herself could become a target. But I know that the likelihood of that happening with both children there is less so I allow it. Of course, the last time they did this was before the Jorelys Rivera case so, again, knowledge of what could happen does play a part in my decisions. That case is fresh in our minds and, I’m sure changed a lot of peoples minds about what is “safe”. Is it safe to allow a 7 yr old to play unattended on a playground at an apt. complex? I bet a lot more people say “no” now than would have said that last summer. Are we becoming more safe or more paranoid?

As many of you know, I work for DFCS so I also come across a lot of cases that never hit the news. You have no idea how many times a year kids are the victims of something like a grown man exposing himself to them in public or sexual abuse at a sleep over. Considering what I see I think I do pretty well to stay rational.
I encourage my kids to be independent in countless ways. I, too, am frustrated when I see teenagers who are afraid to drive or who have never been left home alone and can’t seem to make decisions on their own. Mine, at 8 and 11 seem to already have some very good life skills.
We are definitely harming our kids by being overprotective. It is important that we find a balance. I think we can be protective and still encourage independence as long as we don’t go overboard either way.


April 23rd, 2012
9:11 am

@atlmom -I wholeheartedly agree!

We need to TEACH our kids how to get along and protect themselves when we’re not around. If we’re always hovering over them -how will they ever learn any of this? I don’t know that I would let my 6 year old walk to the bus stop alone (he doesn’t ride the bus, but if he did), but at 8 on up -yes!

The statistics are correct. Child abductions are incredibly aware. Teach your children about never going with strangers, approaching strangers cars -always drill into them that NO good adult EVER asks a child for “help” finding a puppy or anything else. And then QUIT HOVERING! The disservice that you are doing your children far outweighs any protection you’re giving them. You are impeding their self esteem, security and confidence for the rest of their lives.

TWG, I’m not sure why you are the way you are. My mother was an overprotective worrywart (but I still played all over the neighborhood and in the street). I think for her it was because she had NO security and very little supervision growing up, and she equated it with love and caring. Try loosening those strings a little though -especially on the older ones. You’re honestly not doing them any favors.


April 23rd, 2012
9:12 am

*Child abductions are incredibly RARE -I meant to say!


April 23rd, 2012
9:15 am

@mom2alex&max and atlmom – Well said!

DD doesn’t have to be in my sight 100% of the time in our yard or at church, but when she stays in earshot. Anywhere, yes, she stays with me or where I can see her, depending on where we are.

She will be 4 in 1 week, so as she gets older, I will relax more. I know when I was a kid, we would roam the woods near our neighborhood and walk all the way to the Yellow River. We knew what to do, and never had any issues. I want to give DD the same freedom to explore while knowing that the world is different today.


April 23rd, 2012
9:28 am

As a kid, we used to hike, ride bikes, etc. Our big day was Sunday, when we would ride our bikes, without our parents, clear down to the college campus, and play on the football field. We ranged in age from 12 – 16. Can you imagine?????

We were NOT allowed to lay in bed, or watch tv all day long. We had chores, and once those chores were completed, we were gone. We only came home for meals. We stayed out after dinner until midnight, in the neighborhood, playing hide & seek, kick the can, kick ball, etc.

Oh, and not one of us was overweight!


April 23rd, 2012
9:40 am

The media fuels a lot of unfounded fears in my opinion. Here’s some perspective: The numbers are a bit outdated (but that’s how statistics usually are, right?) but in 2002, 115 children were abducted by strangers (“stereotypical” kidnapping: these crimes involve someone the child does not know or someone of slight acquaintance, who holds the child overnight, transports the child 50 miles or more, kills the child, demands ransom, or intends to keep the child permanently.) In 2003, 1,591 children were killed in automobile accidents in which they were a passenger (does not include children who were struck by vehicles).

There is a difference between an accident and someone intentionally snatching your kid but my point is that there are a lot of parents who are paranoid about someone snatching their kid when in reality, we ought to be more concerned with making sure our children are properly restrained and riding with a conscientiousness driver than whether they’re going to get snatched walking to school or a neighbor’s house.

P.S. I was 3 or 4 when Adam Walsh went missing. I was never allowed to walk down a different aisle in the store without my mom until I was about 12 ;)


April 23rd, 2012
9:57 am

@ techmom.. I said the same thing recently when everyone I knew was putting helmets on their kids during a tornado. (???- I hardly ever even make it to the basement) Why don’t we put helmets on our kids in the car? The number of head injuries in a car accident FAR outweigh the number of head injuries in a tornado. People get paranoid and crazy about all sorts of things but I think the idea of a chid abduction is so incredibly horrifying that people focus on it.


April 23rd, 2012
10:00 am

@atlmom — excellent points and kudos to you for taking this approach with your kids!!


April 23rd, 2012
10:03 am

@homeschooler- that just cracked me up! Next up, all kids playing on the playground should wear helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, etc.


April 23rd, 2012
12:03 pm

Almost not letting your 11 year-old son go to a garage sale in your neighborhood is way too overboard, IMO. Look at the odds for this happening. It is not so much that you are raising the most paranoid kid, but also, the most dependant. Adam Walsh’s mom let her kid play at the arcade in the mall, hardly 2 aisles over. He was 6 so that is a lot different than a child that is 11. I did the same when they were really young, but at 10-11, I let them have a little bit of freedom.

K's Mom

April 23rd, 2012
12:41 pm

@ homeschooler, I am one of the least over protective parents in the world and if i’d had a helmet the night of that tornado, I would have put it on K. We were in AL last year the day of the massive destruction and it hit a quarter mile from where we were. The devestation was so massive it is indescribable. A year later, there is still visible damage and it will take hundreds of years to regrow the forrestry that was lost. I never took tornado watches and warnings seriously until then and from now on my rearend will be in the basement when they can tell one is coming. After the 15month old in MO died from head injuries, I do think a helmet in a tornado is a good idea. I also wrote our contact info, along with Ks name, DOB and grandparent info on his arm and diaper during that storm. Again, that may be over the top, but when you have been so close to people dying, you take it more seriously.

For the topic at hand…crime statistics are down, we just have CNN and more awareness. I remember a frequent poster commented on a similar topic one time and she said she had taken her kids to the mall and let them sort of go free, but followed them to see how they acted and reacted in the situation and then they all talked about it and used it as a learning opportunity. I think that is a great idea that gives both kids and parents some confidence. Kids now are too dependent and if we do not allow some freedom, we will have 40yo still living at home.


April 23rd, 2012
12:59 pm

I’d prefer to err on the side of “paranoid” as opposed to living in grief the rest of my life because some psycho took my child. Every parent is entitled to make this decision for him/herself.


April 23rd, 2012
1:35 pm

Free Range Kids is an irresponsible heap of crap. I am sorry but to John and Reve Walsh, Stan and Julie Patz, Noreen Gosch, Samantha Runyon’s mom, Mark Klaas and Mark Lunsford and all the countless other parents who have had to live with the fact that their children were abducted and likely tortured, raped and murdered…instances of child abduction are NOT rare. Add to this the growing number of children who are sexually molested by neighbors, teachers, pastors, scout leaders and YES family members….it is not only irresponsible to suggest we should let our kids “tough” it out in today’s society it is dangerous and STUPID. DO NOT follow the advice in that book. Don’t even read it. Forget it exists and stay vigilant and protect your precious children because one false move, one trusting moment at the wrong time and your child could pay an awful and violent price. Could you live with yourself if the unthinkable happened to your child?????


April 23rd, 2012
1:40 pm

“So many FEWER kids are abducted today than they were years ago.”

While this MAY be true, because studies show the stats are skewed and that far more children are being murdered and abducted by family members than ever before…the bottom line is kids ARE safer today because of past tragedies like the Adam Walsh and Etan Patz case. We now have Amber alerts, and Code Adam and because of JOhn Walsh’s tireless efforts on Capitol Hill, police departments now share information across state borders and the FBI MUST get involved whenever a child goes missing. If not for the earlier tragedies and the actions of people like Mark Klaas and John Walsh and Julie Patz…our children would undoubtedly be far less safe.


April 23rd, 2012
1:44 pm

I am with mom2alex&max and atlmom. I try not to be paranoid because as Techmom mentioned, the media fuels a lot of the panic and these abductions of children by someone they do not know are not that common. I worry more about sexual/physical abuse being that those numbers are MUCH higher. I have talks with my kids about their bodies and their personal space.

When the young Rivera girl from Canton story broke (which I didn’t tell her about, the kids were talking about it at school), by 10 yr old daughter was terrified for a couple of weeks about walking up the street in our neighborhood to her friends house. One thing I told her… BUDDY SYSTEM. NEVER go ANYWHERE alone (the Natalie Holloway can apply here too). I told her heck, as an adult woman when me and the girls go out… we stick together and no one leaves without the other. Now.. she is back to her old self, but with a new set of defenses.


April 23rd, 2012
1:54 pm

I also want to point out that we aren’t just talking here about the rare stranger abductions. Do any of you realize that only 27% of violent and sexual crimes against children are reported as opposed to 57% of crimes against adults? KIDS DON’T TALK. Many parents don’t report. Sometimes parents don’t even know for decades that their child has been victimized. Check out the websites that detail local sex offenders in your area. Read their rap sheets. These guys are clever and they are out there and to pretend that they aren’t simply because you read on some website that stranger abductions are rare or crimes against children is down is just plain stupid. By the age of 18 1 in 6 boys will have been molested and 1 in 3 girls are molested by the age 18. Boys are far less likely to tell. The bogey man isn’t always the stranger with no face. It could be anyone…and this idea that we give our kids free range and essentially serve them up on a silver platter to society because some liberal whack job decided we are preventing kids from being kids…is very troubling to me. We can and should raise our kids to be strong and independent but doing so does not need to involve making them easy prey or vulnerable.


April 23rd, 2012
1:57 pm

This is one of the best critiques of “Free Range Kids” out there and exactly to the point:

Olga (Kansas City, MO) – See all my reviews
This review is from: Free-Range Kids, Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry (Hardcover)
According to Lenore, if the chance of your child being abducted and tortured to death by a stranger is only 1 in 610,000, then you should simply act as if the real number is zero. Using this type of logic, I should discontinue wearing my seatbelt every time I get in the car. It’s uncool. Paranoid. The chance of dying in a car accident is only 1 in 100 over my lifetime, so, it might as well be nothing. But maybe that statistical spread is too wide for you. The chance of me contracting Lockjaw from stepping on a rusty nail is only 1 in 10,000, so who needs the tetanus shot.

Well, 115 children in the US are abducted by strangers, sexually assualted and murdered every year. 115 yearly. That isn’t an urban myth. It isn’t a horror film. It isn’t a Stephen King novel. It’s 4 classrooms full of children.

There is a difference between “rare” and “non-existent”. In the face of any kind of preventable risk, a parent has a responsibility to work to prevent the event, regardless of the odds against it ever happening.

We don’t disregard good judgment about the level of supervision and protection that is appropriate for a child simply because we’ve chosen to entertain the fantasy that a 1 in 610,000 risk is really nothing. Sure, it might you feel less guilty about being bothered with the whole supervision chore, and sure, you might invent a self-serving fantasy about how you’re really teaching your child “independence”, but it’s nothing more than a mental game parents are playing with themselves.

Children aren’t adults. They do not have the mental capacity to perceive and respond to danger that adults do. They do not have the physical stength that adults do. They are vulernable. It is not “suffocating” your child to protect your child; it is an act of love to protect a person who needs to be protected.

The truth is that responsibility, independence, and accountability are very easily taught to children without exposing them to danger they are too immature, weak, and vulnerable to protect themselves against.

Who are you to claim that the antidote to “unrealistic fear” is to dishonestly give your children a false sense of security? Such a child is not likely to grow up to be vigilant about their own safety in any circumstance. If you think teenage boys with their sense of invincibility and immortality are bad, wait until you see one who grew up “free range” in his first car. The kid who runs and takes a flying leap off the edge of a bluff when he’s 12 will see how fast his spedometer will go when he’s 16. (Who hasn’t seen it?)

The risks this parenting philosophy feels are acceptable are potentially deadly, but entirely unnecessary. So why are you taking them? This parenting philosophy is self-serving and wrong.


April 23rd, 2012
2:11 pm

“It could be anyone…and this idea that we give our kids free range and essentially serve them up on a silver platter to society because some liberal whack job decided we are preventing kids from being kids…is very troubling to me.”

You are absolutely right.. it could be anyone. And teaching kids how to react when they are confronted with a certain situation is just providing them with tools. I don’t think letting my kids play right outside in the culdesac, deep within my neighborhood, while I cook dinner and watch from the kitchen window would be serving them up on a silver platter to society (even though my neighbors seem to think I should be OUTSIDE with them). Actually, if more people took the “it takes a village” approach and lookout for each other’s kids we could combat childhood abduction and abuse WAY faster and more effective than by using the bystander approach.

I think that homeschooler put it best by saying ” It is important that we find a balance. I think we can be protective and still encourage independence as long as we don’t go overboard either way.” A friend of mine is a social recluse because his mother wouldn’t let him out of her site and pounded him daily with thoughts of abduction, murder, rape, and all the crazy things that could happen to him. He is now 34 and still lives with is mom, doesn’t leave the house, and has been diagnosed with some sort of social anxiety disorder. That is a proven case of when being over-protective harms your child.

I get what you are saying and I understand your cause, but I also think you underestimate kids today. And I am not sure why you had to call the guy a liberal whack job as I am not sure what him being liberal would have to do with anything.

Kay's kids

April 23rd, 2012
2:15 pm

Kay is a helicopter parent. Please give us some freedom.

Kays Children

April 23rd, 2012
2:47 pm

Mommy, I know Im 15 but would you please accompany me to the lavatory. Im scared without you, Mommy.

Kay's kids

April 23rd, 2012
2:56 pm

We have no friends. We aren’t allowed to sleep in our own beds. We are not allowed to be alone at any time, not even school. She drives us two blocks to school, even though we beg to ride the bus. She sits and waits for us to come out. She brings us our lunch and sits and eats it with us. She does our homework with us. We have to go to every doctor and dentist appointment with her. We can’t roam the mall with our friends on Friday nights. We have to hold her hand when in the mall, or at the grocery store. We even go on her dates with them. Problem is we are 16, 18 & 20…..pretty sad don’t you think. We can’t even get ouf drivers licenses…..

Kays Children

April 23rd, 2012
3:04 pm

Life is just no fun. We have zero freedom. While its still reassuring to find Mommy there with warm milk after awakening from a nightmare, sometimes it seems a bit strange. I wonder why does Mommy insist on making what few friends we have, complete a “friendship application” everytime they come to visit.

Why must I have to complete a “permission slip” when walking to the mailbox, especially when Mommy makes me hold her hand there and back. Sometimes I express to Mommy that I feel smoothered then she sits beside me on the couch for endless hours making me watch re-runs of “Mr Rogers Neighborhood.”



April 23rd, 2012
3:05 pm

When I was 8 I was allowed to walk home from school from time to time. It was about 2 miles, with at least a half mile ofit right by the Hillsboro River. There were few houses along the river then. I was told not to take a ride from ANYBODY.

One day, our neighbor, who happened to be the pastor’s wife, saw me walking along and stopped and offered me a ride. I did as I was told. “I cannot get in your car,” I told her. She immediately went to my house to demand to know WHY I couldn’t ride with her! My mother told her the rule was I couldn’t get in the car with anyone. (That way, I did not have to discern who was safe and who was not) It caused a real uproar for a few days, but my mother merely said, “Don’t tell anyone why. Just say no thanks.”


April 23rd, 2012
3:20 pm

Anytime there is a child abduction or Amber alert it gives me pause. I don’t remember any of the cases you mentioned specifically though, TWG. Whenever there is a child abduction case on the news, I use it as an opportunity to talk to my children about their safety – things like not going places with strangers, walking in a group, remembering that Mommy & Daddy would never send a stranger to pick them up, even in an emergency, things like that.

But at the same time, I don’t want to scare my children and make them feel like it’s not safe to play outside or go anywhere. Bad things happen everywhere, even the safest of neighborhoods. It always slays me though when children are abducted that people marvel at the fact that they were plucked right out of their own neighborhood. Of course they were. Children primarily stay close to home or to school. I still walk my children to school (they’re 5 & 8), but when the oldest is in middle school, he’ll be walking alone. I do worry about that, but I hope that when the time comes I’ve done my job as a parent to inform him and make him vigilant, but not scare him. I let the kids play in the neighborhood alone (ie – walk to a friends house down the street) but we set up boundaries. My kids know that they are not allowed to leave our street unless they are accompanied by a parent (either my wife & myself or a friend’s parent if they’re at a play date) and I make it a point to walk by the window every 20-30 minutes if I know they’re outside playing, just to check. Unfortunately child abductions are one of the saddest realities of our world, but sitting on my children and never letting them out of my sight isn’t going to stop the problem.


April 23rd, 2012
3:27 pm


April 23rd, 2012
4:36 pm

Kay, I enjoyed that article, thank you. And I do tend to side with the writer much more than with the idea of “free range parenting”. I will add that I remember reading one time that the most common age of girls being abducted by strangers is 11 yrs old. The reason for this was thought to be that this is an age when parents seem to “loosen up” a bit.


April 23rd, 2012
11:25 pm

I didn’t find Dr. Golland’s post persuasive at all. First she misrepresented Free Range Kid’s argument, then she presented several straw men, and topped it off by smearing Free Range parents as too self-absorbed to bother with their kids. Her real lack of understanding probability didn’t help her argument either.


April 24th, 2012
10:37 am

The point is – it is MUCH more likely that you will kill your child in an accident than that they will be abducted by someone they do not know.
The answer to these questions, if they were the same would be to NEVER EVER drive in a car with your child. But people don’t do that. They *perceive* the danger of driving as to be non existent. When in fact, it is MUCH higher than having your child abducted.
The end result is that you will have stunted kids if you never let them out of your sight. They will not know how to interact with other people. They will not ever get the ‘intuition’ they need to tell them that something is ‘ok’ or it is not. They will never learn how much information they should give to strangers and how much they shouldn’t.
I think this is highly detrimental.
115 abductions? Across the *country*? There are about 50,000 kids JUST IN THE APS SCHOOL SYSTEM.
One must take risks in this world or one will just hide under the covers and worry. Calculated risks are not a dumb idea. Teaching your children how to interact in this world is a good thing.


April 24th, 2012
10:38 am

re: catlady: very funny story!


April 24th, 2012
1:52 pm

Theresa? You actually thought you were going to be abducted when the only kids being taken and murdered were black?

You are literally too stupid to insult.


April 27th, 2012
7:12 pm

Child abduction is the equivalent of a nuclear blast to a family. In many ways, having a child abducted and not even knowing his or her true fate, is worse than the childs actual death. Sometimes, it is the beginning of a life of grief to devastated parents. I hope nothing happens to Isabella and be found immediately. I have two daughters and I always ensure their safety always. I have provided them a mobile application for safety and protection if ever in danger. Just pressing a button they can notify and alert friends, family and myself. If needed, the call will be routed to the nearest 911 dispatch. Protect your children check this out


April 29th, 2012
1:51 pm

I have read several posts and some I do not agree with. Statistics? I do not need statistics to tell me what is safe and what is not safe for my kids. How about some common sense? No you do not leave a six year old alone in a store while you shop. Pedophiles are all around you. Look at that statistic. They hang out at play areas, schools and anywhere else they can come in contact with our kids. Anyone who thinks otherwise are just fools. We are not paranoid. We are just doing our jobs as parents and protecting our children. I watch my kids constantly. It will always be that way. They are very friendly well adjusted children by the way.