Readers — This is just a fascinating artifact from the world of Worst-First thinking, where folks believe today’s children are completely besieged by criminal masterminds (or at least the last of the phonebook users) who are driven in equal measures by rank evil and a love of intensive research. It ran as a letter to the Press Enterprise paper in Bloomsburg, PA (boldface mine):
To the Editor: I am writing this letter as a concerned former resident of the Bloomsburg area, and am a reader of the Press Enterprise. I no longer live in the area but still return to Bloomsburg because of family and friends who live there.
The March 3rd newspaper carried a page that is commonly used every month, but disturbs me, and others in the area, very deeply. Yesterday it was page 22, the page featuring pictures of young children in the area who are celebrating their birthdays. I would like to urge the Press Enterprise to please, please stop printing this page. These are beautiful, young children who deserve to have their birthdays made a special day for them, but please don’t make it so obvious and so public.
I caution not only the newspaper, but the parents who send in those pictures and the information accompanying them. It is a practice that puts the lives of these children in jeopardy. If I were someone desiring to do something to a child that is too horrible to imagine, all I have to do is get a copy of the newspaper that features a page 22 with all the pictures and information I would need in order to carry out my desires. By purchasing that newspaper I would have a current photo of the child; know the names of the parents; know the town they lived in, and get a phone book to look up the address; learn the names and towns of the grandparents; know how many siblings there are and their ages; and, by putting two and two together, come up with the school they go to.
If I learned their address from the phone book, I could drive to the area where they live, sit in my car and watch for them to walk to school and make my move. This is an extremely dangerous situation and the newspaper and the parents are making it very simple and treacherous for the very children they love so much.
This morning (March 4, 2014) I looked on the Internet and did a search for current registered sex offenders in Bloomsburg, Danville, and Berwick. There were a total of 66 current registered sex offenders. How many others are there in the area who are not current or are considering taking that next step to becoming one? Of course the three towns only skim the surface of the residents Benton, Hazleton, Northumberland, and, of course Sunbury where very recently a teenager was arrested for murder by finding victims on the Internet.
Bloomsburg is not the innocent town it once was when I grew up there (I graduated high school there in the ’60s). I know several residents of the area who have never traveled over 100 miles from the town and probably never will. If you live in the town, you may never see Interstate 80 except when you drive on it. You may not even have a concept of the amount of traffic that drives on that highway. Do you even realize that I-80 goes from the New York City area all the way to the west coast? The number of people who travel through the Bloomsburg area daily is tremendous. It would be so easy for one of them to buy a newspaper, see the pictures of the children, do a little research, and their day would be planned. I would hate for something horrible to happen in my hometown.
S. H. . Norman, Okla.
The doomed town of Bloomsburg, PA.