I talked with my kiddos about avoiding strangers, even if they're just asking for help (I guess someone tried to approach a girl in WY during this same time period, asking for help in finding a missing puppy). D couldn't understand why he should have to refuse to help people -- it very much goes against his character to do that. Hopefully, he'll be able to do it anyway, as I told him how dangerous it could be.
I had let E go to the park to meet friends by herself a couple weeks ago; obviously, that's out for the time being. She'll have to be with D or one of us all the time. And D won't be doing any bike rides alone for a while, either. Even though it's more often girls who are targeted than boys, it's still a possibility.
After attending our monthly PTA meeting this morning and hearing some fears from other parents, however, I'm seeing that in this -- just like in everything -- we have to find balance. Yeah, we don't want to be stupid in protecting our children. But we also can't live each moment in fear (Strictly Ballroom moment, no?). We can talk to them, we can teach them how to scream, yell, fight, bite, etc and how to stay away from strangers. We can make sure they're not by themselves when going to and from school or the park. But asking parents to come to school during the day and patrol the playground? To me, that's a little overboard. First, child predators seldom (if ever?) will go to a playground during school hours. They don't want kids with other kids -- they seek out stragglers. Second, how realistic is that idea? Do you only keep parents there for the next couple of weeks? What if the perpetrator is never caught? Do you do it indefinitely? How can parents keep that up?
I don't necessarily have any answers -- and certainly not any answers for parents other than myself. We are doing what we can to be sure D and E understand how to be safe -- and we'll try not to be foolish with their safety. But I also don't want them being afraid to live...so I'm trying to find that balance between wise actions and letting terror rule. *sigh* It's not easy, that's for sure.
Any wisdom from my friends?