Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Stranger Danger

One evening as I was lounging around doing some channel surfing, I happened to catch the movie Minority Report on TV.

The scene playing was the one when Tom Cruise’s character, John Anderton, was grieving over his son who was abducted several years ago at six-years-old.

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John Anderton’s son’s abduction scene from Minority Report

It was a chilling scene to watch. It starts out with Anderton sharing a happy moment with his son at a public swimming pool. He playfully ducked his head underwater to show his boy how long he could hold his breath. He was only under the water a few moments but when he popped his head up, his son had disappeared. The scene ends tragically with Anderton running frantically through the crowd, shouting and screaming his son’s name.

It’s one of the worst nightmares a parent could ever have. In a way it can be worse than witnessing your child die before your eyes.

Missing” leaves an open wound with no sense of closure. There is a poison in that wound that prevents it from healing completely, as you continually hover between hope and despair.

Imagine losing a child to an unknown horror, never knowing what fate has befallen him or her… Torture? Slavery? Hunger? Isolation? Loneliness? Pain? The thoughts are too horrifying to consider.

Before I had children, I used to glance casually past such news of missing children and posters asking “Have you seen this child”. I probably just had passing thought of “Oh, how sad” and went on with my business as usual.

But now that I have kids, I now understand the deep pain and horror of having your child go missing. The thought is too terrifying for me to even consider that I immediately push away any painful images of any such possibility of this happening to my own babies.

My mum recently told me this chilling true story which happened back in my hometown:

A mother and her little girl (not much older than Nathan probably is now) were shopping in a local supermarket (Servay in Penampang for the KK locals). The mother happened to turn her head for a moment to reach for an item on a shelf. When she turned back, her little girl had disappeared. She started screaming frantically for help. Thankfully the supermarket staff were swift to respond and immediately locked down the entrances to prevent anyone from exiting and began searching the premises. The little girl was eventually found in the toilet, hair shorn, dressed in boys’ clothing –drugged. There was no sign of the kidnapper who must have bolted from the scene.

The story is too close to home. I shiver inside every time I think about it. This lollipop bait video reinforced the point even deeper for me:

 

“A moment of neglect, a lifetime of regret”

I’ve started thinking about having the ‘stranger danger’ talk with our 3 y.o. Nathan. He is so friendly with everyone (sometimes too friendly actually) that a lollipop bait like this could definitely easily lure him away. But knowing this, we always try to be extra vigilant in keeping our hawk eyes on him whenever we’re out and about.

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Hold tight to those little hands

Maybe it’s about time we start teaching him about the difference between strangers and people we know. Though, I don’t want to scare him and transfer my paranoid parental fears onto him.

Have you had the ‘stranger danger’ talk with your kids? How old were they and how did you go about it?

 

Linking up to the IBOT party

8 comments:

  1. I cannot watch news stories or movies that involve this kind of thing and will probably have nightmares about the story you shared.
    I have had the stranger danger talk, as has the pre-school that he attended last year. I saw an episode of Oprah (or a similar style of program) where they taught the kids that if someone tries to take them that they fall on the floor, kicking, punching and shouting. It brings attention and makes it bloody hard to grab a kid off the floor who is kicking and punching.
    He still asks now (he started Kindy yesterday) is that person a stranger? So there is still a comprehension thing needing to happen, but we will continue to talk about it. In fact, this is a reminder to not get complacent about it and remember to repeat the message often.

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    1. Yes... nightmares! Good thing the school plays their part to educate our kids. And that's a good point to tell the kids about how to react if a stranger ever tries to take them. I think if I tell my 3 y.o. about strangers he would constantly ask me the same question "is that person a stranger? how about him? or him? or her?"

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  2. Oh Serene! I have that same paranoid feeling! I would be completely crushed if I don't know where my children are. Related, lately we've been praying for Christians in persecuted countries. In one particular country, they not only arrest the Christian -- but the authorities would also take away the Christian's parents and children. While we were praying for them, I kept imagining Emeth and Hanan in a labor camp, forced to work, getting beaten by soldiers. I know, I have a very vivid imagination. I cried myself to sleep.

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    1. I know what you mean, Irene. Sometimes I let my imagination run too wildly like that too... especially when confronted with real stories, news and current issues like that. I find it difficult to even type out my thoughts further right now, I feel my heart beating frantically, just thinking about thinking about it. I often push such thoughts quickly away... imagining it so vividly would be too confronting. But maybe it's sometimes a good thing to aid in prayer for the families and countries where this happens

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  3. I honestly had to skip over a lot of this post, because it's just a little too confronting. I haven't had a huge stranger danger talk with my kids, but they are all pretty cautious anyway. None of them are likely to approach stranger like some kids will. I have informed my older kids though that should any one ever try and hurt/take them, they are allowed to do whatever they need to to get away. Yell, kick, bite, pull hair, kick boys in the nuts. None of that is wrong in a hostage situation.

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    1. Agree! It's self defense. I think I definitely need to have a 'proper' talk with mine. He approaches people all the time, at restaurants, playgrounds etc. to chat. To him, the world is still a big, nice, friendly place.

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  4. It's so tough to strike a balance between keeping kids safe and maintaining their curiosity and friendliness towards the world hey! Good luck Serene!

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    1. Thanks, Min. It is quite a delicate balancing act. As a parents I often feel torn at times, trying yo hold it all together. He is still a little guy yet, so we'll keep him close for now... but slowly release the string to let him fly higher and higher on his own.

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