Are the rescued Ohio women a teachable moment or too awful to tell kids?

I told my oldest kids about the rescued Ohio women. I told them never to take rides from anyone and never to walk over to a car or van while waiting for the school bus. I told them the girls had been kidnapped and held for 10 years. I told them to know I would never send anyone to get them that they didn’t know and to always stay with a group.

My 10-year-old son told me to PLEASE stop telling him about news events that they were upsetting to him.

So I am wondering did you tell your kids (what age?) about the kidnapped girls/women? Was it a teachable moment to never get in the car with a stranger or was it just too horrific to share with them? How much detail did you share if you told them about the case? When is something just too awful to tell them? What news events have you shared with them this year and what events haven’t you shared?

14 comments Add your comment


May 14th, 2013
8:43 am

Does your son lament things so heavily often? That’s a little reason for concern.

We told both of our kids about this as well as the Boston and Connecticut school shooting. I guess they are both like me in the sense that they digest the information and move on.

My wife is a terrible worrier. I think it makes her crazy that the other three of us in the house kind of go with the flow.

Mildly dis-interested

May 14th, 2013
9:14 am

By all means, shield your children from the reality that is the present day. When/If they become adults they will be ready for w/e they world has to throw at them.


May 14th, 2013
9:49 am

So I am wondering did you tell your kids (what age?) about the kidnapped girls/women? Yes both my 11 and 13 yo were told. I did see it as a time to remind them of the safety rules we had discussed most of their lives. Also, there was an email the NEXT DAY about a Pope HS girl who was approached by a man in a van (the police said he did not attempt to force her into the car and he is being investigated. He gave her a business card…contact Pct 4 in Cobb for more detail).

Was it a teachable moment to never get in the car with a stranger or was it just too horrific to share with them? TWG, there are horrific things out there you need to share with your kids! Sorry but that is life. I am sure that when Laurie Lynn Landt was kidnapped (raped and murdered) from Akers Mill, where the most of us went to the movies my parents were not thrilled to have to tell me (I was about Rose’s age). Her brother’s were in my classes at school. I still remember the new reports, her mother on the tv, and how I wanted to help (we sent a gift basket from our grade over to them).

How much detail did you share if you told them about the case? We discussed the basics that we knew…they had accepted rides, were raped, were held in bonds, and were gone from everyone they knew for 10 years. That they were LUCKY they were not killed, and that they did find a way to escape but that MOST of the time that is not the case.

When is something just too awful to tell them? At Rose’s & Walsh’s age…very little. Liliana you have some time still. With your older one’s, they are likely to hear it at school. BOTH of mine (ES & MS) came home telling me what they had heard at school. So we discussed that too.

What news events have you shared with them this year and what events haven’t you shared? Aurora, CT, Boston, TX, the plant in N. GA that exploded. Some of Benghazi, North Korea. ALmost everything about both the CCSD and the Federal economic issues.

TWG, as parents we want to protect our kids. Rose and Walsh are very close in age to mine. So I really get it.

However, part of protecting them is letting them know the real dangers in the world and what to do. Helping them to think and how to make good choices. Hopefully to one day help be part of the solutions to reslove the mess we adults create (like the every increasing spending issues!)


May 14th, 2013
9:57 am

There are ways to share information and get your kids to understand the seriousness of a situation without scaring them. And you shouldn’t just warn them about strangers; the reality is, they are more likely to be picked up by someone they do know (just like Ariel Castro knew one of the girls he kidnapped).

Walsh is either over sensitive or you are sharing way too much information with him and making him paranoid.

real life

May 14th, 2013
10:00 am

Why tell them and add unneeded stress to their lives? If they see this on the news or friends talk about it then answer the questions. But at their age the only reason to bring it up is to scare them.
Age appropriate is the point here. Teaching your children basic safety rules is one thing, but discussing this particular event should be done with the age of the children firmly in mind.
We talk constantly about children growing up to soon. This type of discussion is an example. Why would I expect to have an adult discussion with elementary age children? And this topic certainly comes under adult discussion. Did you include the years of rape in the discussion? The other physical abuse? A child growing up as a hostage too? None of this seems appropriate for younger children. Remember that for most children their fears are different than those of adults. Why go the extra step to impose adult fears on them at an inappropriately young age? Pay more attention to what your children are saying and realize that they are not yet ready for adult conversations and concerns.

Just Me Thinking...

May 14th, 2013
10:34 am

My daughter is 8 and I talked about it with her. It was all over the television news and on the internet new sites. I talked about it in an age appropriate way, but I still talked about it. We talked about the bombing in Boston too. My daughter is a worrier like TWG’s son seems to be, but I have found that if I do it the right way she worries less. I will never NOT tell her anything. For one thing I want her well informed about the world we live in. I also don’t want her to hear bits and pieces and make her own conclusions. That is what causes confusion and fear…even in adults.


May 14th, 2013
10:51 am

I don’t think it’s necessary to share all these news stories with kids or that sharing so much makes them safer. I get what FCM is saying about her parents having shared what happened to someone at her local hangout, but the problem is, we’re now in a 24h news cycle where stories that were once local are broadcast nationally if they’re likely to boost ratings (especially if they involve pretty women/girls as victims or murderers). I think it’s often just too much and that Walsh shows a certain maturity in recognizing that too much bad news is making him anxious. Most adults know that as scary as this is, it’s relatively rare, but when kids hear so many of these stories, it can make the world seem like a scarier place than it is — the reporting of horrific crimes is often disproportionate, but they’re too young to get that. Share what they are likely to hear about anyway (like the Ohio story, which was huge) and discuss it with them, but refrain from pointing out most of the scary stories that hit cable news and the morning shows. And in this case, in addition to reminding them about stranger danger, stress what the actual “news” is — that the women were found! And that when he heard their cries, a man ran to help! Help them find the good shown by people when tragedy strikes, not just the evil. And remind them that as awful as it is, things like this don’t happen to to the vast majority of people, so while they should do what they can to keep themselves safe, they shouldn’t live in fear.

If a scary news story is not local and doesn’t make the front page of a print version of the newspaper or the half-hour evening national news, I’d say don’t share it with them at all.


May 14th, 2013
10:59 am

If I had a child under 14, probably not. I would have already spent years talking to them about rides from no family members, taking medicine or drugs, etc. and of course they were well supervised.

I was allowed, on pretty days, to walk home from school, a distance of about 2 miles. It was in a suburban area, bit a half mile ir so was beside vacant land next to the river. I had been told to NEVER get in the car with ANYONE, so when our neighbor, the pastor’s wife, stopped and offered me a ride, I said, “no, my mom says I can’t ride with you.” By the time I got home she had jumped on my mother(bad mistake) about why I could not ride with her, and my mother explained that she did not want me to have to decide who was “safe” so that was the rule. Caused a considerable flutter in the neighborhood.


May 14th, 2013
11:07 am

I was 8-9 at the time.

Theresa, you seem to be a fearful person yourself, so you might dial back your level of discussion, or you might end up with scared children of your own. Answer their questions, for sure, but don’t turn it into a horror story for them. JMHO.


May 14th, 2013
11:47 am

Interesting question to pose. Ten years ago when Amanda went missing, I used it as a teaching moment to my then 9 year old daughter. (We live in the Cleveland area) Then when Gina went missing a year later, I drove the point home even further. I am glad I did. She is now 19 and just completing here freshman year of college in NYC. She has a health paranoia about strangers, but is still a very outgoing person. She will be home tomorrow, so I haven’t had the chance to talk to her about the women being found. As for my younger children now (5 & 8) thay can’t escape the facts of the story plastered all over – tv, radio. I just review what proper strager safety is.
I think it is TOTALLY appropriate to talk to your son about this. Now that the subject was talked about already,you don’t have to beat the issue. Just a friendly reminder about stranger safety when your son heads out the door.


May 14th, 2013
12:33 pm

‘Was it a teachable moment to never get in the car with a stranger or was it just too horrific to share with them?’

I read somewhere that most abductions are done by people that they do know. Wasn’t one of the girls that Ariel Castro kidnapped the best friend of his daughter? And videos I have seen of stranger abductions show the abductor grabbing the child and putting them in a vehicle not luring them in.


May 14th, 2013
1:52 pm

I have asked myself this same question about my son… I want him to understand the seriousness and dangers that are out there, but I don’t want to turn him into a paranoid person either…. the direction of this world though – i think they do need to know, with a filter…..


May 14th, 2013
2:01 pm

@ to FCM….that was TWG’s question not mine. My reply to it did not address stranger or known person. In the Laurie Lynn Landt case she did not know her abductor (according to her father). In the case of these Ohio girls I think at least one did. I also said at the time the story first broke that if Amanda called home to say she had a ride she knew her captor. Surely at 17 she knew not to go with a stranger. However, if this Castro guy had been in her Burger King often she might have been ok with it.


May 14th, 2013
6:14 pm

We have an obligation to teach our kids how to stay safe. We don’t have an obligation to sensationalize this situation for these poor young women. I hope this is a “one-off” situation, but I fear that it is not.

I do think we must tell our children what to do/not to do.