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) Â 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 concernedÂ former resident of the Bloomsburg area,Â and am a reader of the Press Enterprise. IÂ no longer live in the area but still return toÂ Bloomsburg because of family and friendsÂ who live there.
The March 3rd newspaper carried a pageÂ that is commonly used every month, but disturbsÂ me, and others in the area, very deeply.Â Yesterday it was page 22, the page featuringÂ pictures of young children in the area whoÂ are celebrating their birthdays. I would likeÂ to urge the Press Enterprise to please, pleaseÂ stop printing this page. These are beautiful,Â young children who deserve to have theirÂ birthdays made a special day for them, butÂ please donâ€™t make it so obvious and so public.
I caution not only the newspaper, but theÂ parents who send in those pictures and theÂ information accompanying them.Â It is a practice that puts the lives of theseÂ children in jeopardy. If I were someone desiringÂ to do something to a child that is too horribleÂ to imagine, all I have to do is get a copyÂ of the newspaper that features a page 22 withÂ all the pictures and information I would needÂ Â in order to carry out my desires. By purchasingÂ that newspaper I would have a currentÂ photo of the child; know the names of theÂ parents; know the town they lived in, and getÂ a phone book to look up the address; learn theÂ names and towns of the grandparents; knowÂ Â how many siblings there are and their ages;Â and, by putting two and two together, come upÂ with the school they go to.
If I learned theirÂ address from the phone book, I could driveÂ to the area where they live, sit in my car andÂ watch for them to walk to school and makeÂ my move. This is an extremely dangerousÂ situation and the newspaper and the parentsÂ are making it very simple and treacherous forÂ the very children they love so much.
This morning (March 4, 2014) I lookedÂ on the Internet and did a search for currentÂ registered sex offenders in Bloomsburg, Danville,Â and Berwick. There were a total of 66Â current registered sex offenders. How manyÂ others are there in the area who are notÂ current or are considering taking that nextÂ step to becoming one? Of course the threeÂ towns only skim the surface of the residentsÂ Benton, Hazleton, Northumberland, and,Â of course Sunbury where very recently aÂ teenager was arrested for murder by findingÂ victims on the Internet.
Bloomsburg is not the innocent town itÂ once was when I grew up there (I graduatedÂ high school there in the â€™60s). I know severalÂ residents of the area who have never Â traveledÂ over 100 miles from the town and probablyÂ never will. If you live in the town, you mayÂ never see Interstate 80 except when youÂ drive on it. You may not even have a conceptÂ of the amount of traffic that drives on thatÂ highway. Do you even realize that I-80 goesÂ from the New York City area all the way toÂ the west coast? The number of people whoÂ travel through the Bloomsburg area daily isÂ tremendous. It would be so easy for one ofÂ them to buy a newspaper, see the pictures ofÂ the children, do a little research, and theirÂ day would be planned. I would hate for somethingÂ horrible to happen in my hometown.
S. H. .Â Norman, Okla.