“Do Not Give Into Fear” says Police Chief…After a Child Abduction!

Hi Folks! Recently a 9-year-old in New Zealand was abducted on his way home from school and found 90 minutes later, abandoned on a bridge. This piece of reporting from the Timaru Herald AND the reactions of everyone in it, including police and principals, remind me there is sanity out there, if only we choose to hang onto it, instead of leaping straight into panic and over-reaction. I’ll put the beginning of the article here. This link will take you to the rest. This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for the resilience woven into us, and the ability to recognize and honor it. – L.

Do not give in to fear, says police chief


Children should continue to walk to school and not live in fear, Timaru’s police chief says.

His comments follow the alleged abduction and assault of a 9-year-old Oceanview Heights schoolboy last Thursday. A 26-year-old man appeared in Timaru District Court yesterday in connection with the matter.

The Mid-South Canterbury area commander, Inspector Dave Gaskin, reassured the public that Timaru was still safe.

“We live in a safe community. This is a great place to live. In most cases it is not strangers you have to be afraid of, it is the people you know.

“It’s also important to reassure people that this was not a case of a random abduction – the alleged offender and the victim were known to each other.”

Parents should feel safe about children walking to school, he said.

“I am a big believer children should walk to school.

“We should not give in to fear.

“It is a good idea for children to walk together and to have a safety plan.”




17 Responses to “Do Not Give Into Fear” says Police Chief…After a Child Abduction!

  1. Stephanie November 22, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

    A little common sense! Wonderful to see.

  2. Bronte November 22, 2012 at 4:03 pm #

    I grew up in a town 80km from Timaru. Timaru was a hotbed of crime compared to my sleepy town.

    Sadly there are people starting to go the crazy route, though at the bank yesterday my 8 month old was crawling all over the place while we waited for our appointment and he was getting indulgent smiles from everyone who went past.

  3. Warren November 22, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

    Police Chief actually is more a hero, for his comments, than solving the case. In this day and age, it took guts to say what he did. Great job.

  4. Sophie November 22, 2012 at 10:33 pm #

    I work at a school in Christchurch, a couple of hours north of Timaru. We normally have staff on duty at 3 of our 4 exits, mainly because the mix of cars (both moving and parked) and pedestrians can get dangerous. Our response to the alleged abduction in Timaru? Someone at the 4th gate for 1 week, partly because a dirty magazine had been found there by a parent too. It’ll be interesting to see whether anyone comments on the lack of staff at that gate next week, and if so their reasons: cars, dirty mags, abductions, or simply that it’s nice to see staff saying goodbye to everyone!

  5. Gustavo Solivellas November 23, 2012 at 8:22 am #

    “I must not fear.
    Fear is the mind-killer.
    Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
    I will face my fear.
    I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
    And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
    Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
    Only I will remain”


  6. Lollipoplover November 23, 2012 at 9:12 am #

    It is nice to hear of a rational response to a crime. Of course kids can still walk safely. One of the markers of a great community should be kids walking freely.

    On Thanksgiving eve in my town, a 10 year-old girl was killed (and her grandmother injured) in a horrific crash. A speeding sports car slammed into the back of her car, killing her instantly and leaving the grandmom close to death. The news reports tell that the car was going in excess of 100 mph. I’m praying my kids don’t know this girl. Sadly, our mayor has not issued an”It’s still safe to drive your children” press release….

  7. Jespren November 23, 2012 at 9:21 am #

    Haha, Gustavo gets bonus points for quoting Dune!

  8. Zenoobi November 23, 2012 at 12:27 pm #

    I think kids are so attuned to ‘stranger danger’ these days – more so than we often realized. I agree that they are much more susceptible to people that they know.

    But god – what a horrible incident

  9. EricS November 23, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

    Glad to hear that there is still common sense among authorities like chief Gaskin. Maybe more people will be inclined to believe coming from someone they can look to for answers.

  10. EricS November 23, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

    @Lollipoplover: that is tragic. The ironic thing is, even as tragic as that collision was, pretty much no one will have reservations driving their kids. Not only have some parents stopped using common sense, they are also selective of what they fear, based on what is convenient for them. In this situation, not driving their kids would pose as an inconvenience, so they will keep driving them. But letting their children walk to school is a different story. That’s when they start having worse case thinking. Never taking into account the remoteness of their fears. But will continue to drive their kids, whether they realize or not that they are more inclined to get injured or killed in a car, than get abducted by a total stranger.

  11. Stijn Hommes November 23, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

    I suspect they’ve been reading this blog. They’re saying everything Lenore is trying to get people to notice…

  12. Warren November 23, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

    We need to have this Chief talk with the librarian in the previous story.

  13. Crystal November 23, 2012 at 6:01 pm #

    Wow, can Lenore start an annual awards for “Free Range Town of the Year” or something similar? That way we could highlight wonderful people like this who still have common sense in their brains.

  14. linvo November 23, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    @Eric S, the argument that ignoring the dangers of driving the car is about convenience and letting kids walk to school is not doesn’t seem totally correct. Because what could be more convenient than sending the kids to school by themselves instead of driving (or walking) them? And it is an argument that is often used to slander those parents that do let their kids walk alone. They are frequently accused of putting their kids in danger because they are too lazy to bring them to school themselves.

    I think it really has more to do with the profile of abductions vs car crashes. People seem quite preoccupied with the idea that they would not be able to live with the thought of their kids being killed by a predator but seem to accept that if they die in a car crash, they would be able to put this down to fate or bad luck. It is probably also why the argument of traffic is not as often mentioned in the discussion about letting kids walk alone than stranger danger is. Even though it is also a much higher risk and being aware of it would prompt most parents to teach their kids how to negotiate traffic situations safely.

    In any case, none of it has anything to do with the kind of common sense displayed here by the police and the school!

  15. Donna November 24, 2012 at 5:24 pm #

    EricS – It has nothing to do with a lack of common sense. It is simply about the necessity of driving for life. In most places in the US outside of large cities, cars are a necessity. Due to lack of walkability and crappy public transportation, not driving a car is extremely inconvenient; not getting into a car (taxi, rental, friend’s etc.) impossible. And you are really limited to a very small handful of cities if you want to never get into any vehicle that rides on the roadways (and I fail to see where a bus is actually safer than a car).

    Children walking to school is not a necessity in life. There are ways to get to school other than to walk and children grow up to be fully functioning members of society without ever having walked to school. In fact, most children in the US do get to school some way other than walking and have since school buses came into existence.

    Humans can’t survive in a situation where we are constantly stressed out about something as necessary to daily life functions as getting in a vehicle. Those of us who managed to live passed 25 would be a psychological and physical mess from stress overload. On the other hand, we can stress all day about something unnecessary, like letting children walk to school alone.

  16. Maggie November 30, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

    To a certain extent you will find that this is the reaction in much of New Zealand. I’m a Canadian that has been living in Blenheim, NZ (about 4 hours north of Timaru) for the last 3 years.
    Until I read your blog post about this, I didn’t even know it had happened. This, to me, highlights the difference between the media here in NZ and the media in North America.
    If this had happened back in Canada or the US, we would have had it splashed all over the local news and possibly the national news as well. There would have been warnings, security updates at schools clear on the other side of the country and lockable bubbles places around children everywhere.
    Here in NZ? Nothing. A short article in the paper, possibly a brief mention on the news and a security review at the schools in the nearby vicinity. Nothing major.

    But there are SO many differences between the ways that children are handled here vs Nth America.

    I see 5 & 6 year old kids walking to school here. My kids are 8 & 10 and the only hesitation I have when they walk to school is crossing roads. There are virtually NO pedestrian crossings. My 10 year is great, my 8 year still walk with his head down, straight out into traffic. :)
    Am I worried about them being abducted? No.
    Is it possible someone might stop and offer them a ride? Yes. Because they feel bad that my kids are walking in the rain!
    Will my kids get in to the car? No. They know they won’t melt and they like the walk.

    I am SO glad that this police chief has a good head on his shoulders.

    Oh Lenore, I could write you a bunch of posts on the freedoms that kids in NZ have versus what they had back in Nth America. It’s amazing. It really is!


  1. Do Not Give Into Fear says Police ChiefAfter a Child Abduction! - SAHM Solution | SAHM Solution - May 7, 2013

    […] Hi Folks! Recently a 9-year-old in New Zealand was abducted on his way home from school and found 90 minutes later, abandoned on a bridge. This piece of reporting from the Timaru Herald AND the reactions of everyone in it, including police and principals, remind me there is sanity out there, if oSee all stories on this topic » […]