Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Child Catcher

A friend related an incident to me recently about letting her children walk to school and having a woman in a van stop to talk with them. A police officer saw them, was concerned about them "talking to a stranger" and came over to investigate. He ended up escorting them to school and then finding their mother to report that her children had been talking to strangers.

Since when are nice ladies talking to children a danger? I know, I know, an abductor can be anyone. But really. Everyone isn't dangerous. I'm sure had she seemed creepy or asked them to get in her car, the children would have run the other direction. When my son walked to soccer practice one woman in a van spoke to him to see that he was ok. It didn't even dawn on me to be worried that he answered her. We should teach our children not to GO anywhere with strangers, not teach them that it's inappropriate to talk to anyone you haven't met. My Grandpa talked to strangers all the time. I talk to people I don't know. I find that they are really nice. Sometimes they become my friends.

As I was thinking about this incident, I thought of the movie "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang". In the movie a family flies in a car to some foreign country. They enter town with two children, who are immediately rushed out of sight into a shop by a toy maker. It is dangerous for them to be on the street. You see, in this country, the queen hates children and employs a "child catcher" to round up any children he sees and then takes them prisoner in the castle. So, any children in the town are always hidden away inside, in cellars and behind hidden doors. Are we getting to that point? Do we think that just by being outside our children are in danger?

I try not to think that way, but I wonder about when we do and what harm we do to our children. The children in this story had no lives. Our children won't either if we don't learn to be afraid of realities and not possibilities.

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