They say having children alters your perspective on things. That’s certainly true for some things.

Since having a daughter I’ve become a lot more attuned to the gender gap. I’m also increasingly aware of the need to address climate change. My frankly abhorrent attitude as a younger childless man of, I won’t be here so who cares has long been abandoned.

Missing Person Poster

In some areas though I’ve not changed at all and frankly in one particular area I’m a bit surprised.

Fear of Abduction

As a child I felt my parents were over protective. I wasn’t allowed to the play park, because it was situated 15 yards past the speed bump that marked the distance I could ride my bike unaccompanied.

I can only ever remember being sent to the shops alone by my parents once until I was well into my teens. Though the fact I managed to lose the tenner I’d been given to buy bread with might have had more influence in this, than any fear I’d be abducted did.

My Sister and I were well aware of stranger danger. Not to accept sweets or get into cars with someone we didn’t know. Although our lives were so well controlled there weren’t many times those situations could arise.

Still I felt, like many kids do, that it would never happen to me. Upon doing some research I’ve found that I’m actually not alone. In fact a large proportion of the population also believe this. It’s called Optimism Bias, and occurs in any manner of situations. From being involved in a car accident to being trapped in a burning building.

It’s why so many of us don’t heed the warnings about sleeping with the doors closed. Running dishwashers and washing machines at night or when no one is home!

Obviously there are some who don’t believe this. My good friend Julie actually tweeted today about how her eldest won’t go to play with his friends for fear something will happen.

I Never Worry Something Has Happened To Them!

I’ve read hundreds of crime novels, watched just as many movies and TV shows in which children are abducted and or murdered. Just this evening I watched an episode of one such crime drama.

It centered around an abduction case that was five years old. Evidence of the missing girl had surfaced. Brilliantly scripted and acted, I was thoroughly engrossed and at the climactic finale felt my heart beating faster and found myself holding my breath. Until the girl was found safe and well.

Still every time the boys leave the house I never worry that something will happen to them. Perhaps when Little Miss OMG is old enough to go off without me by her side I might worry about her.

I don’t think I will though. There are many times the boys have gone off and when I ring their phones to see where they are, or tell them it’s time to come home. If they don’t answer, my initial response is “Little feckers are ignoring me” not “Something has happened to them!”

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had heart in my mouth moments. A young Buddy went missing in a shopping centre in Limerick once. Thankfully after 20 heart stopping minutes he was found safe and well in a shop playing with toys!

Looking into the statistics it would appear that even though child kidnappings generate headlines. They aren’t all that common.

According to a Home Office report in 2004, there were 798 child kidnapping reports, in England and Wales. Of those reports 447 involved a stranger. 375 of those reports were of an attempted kidnapping, meaning there were 72 successful abductions.

10 thoughts on “Stranger Danger

  1. I’m quite laid back about it all too. You just don’t worry that it could happen! Saying that I don’t think I’ll let me eldest do far on her own until she’s a lot older!!


  2. I think this is a great attitude to have! I think the media has hyper stranger danger up beyond all recognition and we only hear about the bad people forgetting that the world is mainly made up of good people.


  3. I don’t think you would be a parent if you didn’t worry about things like this. I suppose the key is keeping it in check on now allowing it to take over your own and your children’s enjoyment of life.


  4. For me it’s a tuff one. My teen walks to school and goes out with her friends, I try not to think about the dangers otherwise I would never let her out of my sight. My tween however hates it when a stranger smiles at her when she is standing with me. I hope I have taught both of my children enough about stranger danger.


  5. I am fairly laid back, although my parents live right on the field where Sarah Payne was snatched and I have vivid memories of the police searching all the cupboards and outbuildings


  6. My eldest (who is 9 now) disappeared once from a shopping mall when he was about 2, when I had my back turned for a minute to sign something. My immediate panicked thought at the time was that someone had taken him, as how else could he disappear to quickly. Turns out he had wandered out of the mall to “look at cars” in the car park – and that toddlers are a lot faster than I had realised!


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