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Is Stranger Danger Real?

November 3, 2009

As my kids have grown older it’s become easier to put the spectre of stranger danger out of my head.  However, recent headlines about the abduction and murders of several young girls and the disappearance of a college student make it harder than ever to avoid being paranoid about my children’s safety. 

The crazy thing is, I know the statistics.  Logically, I know that my kids are more at risk for bodily harm when they’re riding in the car with me.  (Just as sure as I know I’m much more likely to be in a car accident than a plane crash; it doesn’t matter, I’m still a lot more nervous flying through the air than I am rolling along asphalt.)  But I’ve come to realize that a big part of being a concerned parent has absolutely nothing to do with logic or facts and figures.  For better or for worse, my heart sometimes overrides my head.

I did find a couple of online articles that shed some light on abduction statistics, although some of the data are outdated (finding newer numbers seems to be difficult): 

Parents Fear Abduction More Than Car Accident – What are the Odds?

Stats show family abductions far outnumber stranger abductions

Yes, I know the stats.  But as part of my SavvyMom work for Our Child Safe, I connect with a number of groups and websites dedicated to missing children and adults (you can find me on Facebook and on Twitter).  And I have to say, it’s disheartening to see all of the websites that either list missing kids or are dedicated to a specific missing child – some of whom disappeared decades ago.  It may “only” be about 115 stranger abductions each year (which is what the majority of us fear the most) but that’s 115 precious children missing; 115 families that will never – no matter what the outcome – be the same.  And that’s terrifying.

Keeping my kids safe is my absolute top priority.  But the last thing I want to do is to foster a sense of fear and paranoia. I want my kids to have a spirit of strength and self-assurance, not timidity and fear.  So once again I’m faced with what feels like an impossible balancing act:  attempting to teach them how not to become a victim while at the same time avoiding a sense of fear-mongering.

Is stranger danger real?  From what I can tell, the answer is “yes and no.”  Which makes getting a handle on the appropriate response very, very difficult.  The numbers may be on my side…but the stakes are awfully high.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. May 25, 2010 9:04 pm

    Sigh. Parenthood is not for the faint of heart. Didn’t we all have lemonade stands as children? Shouldn’t our kids have that pleasure as well? Is it okay if we bring a lawn chair and hang out nearby?

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