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Readers, you will be SHOCKED to learn that the driver of the car that was “caught on tape” practically abducting a child (or so the media told us) was actually on a nefarious mission to … buy boat parts! So says this Sheriff’s Report, send to us by Mike Smith:

Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office Locates Suspect Vehicle - 04/07/14 

The Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office reports the suspicious vehicle and driver reported on Ballston Road outside of Sheridan has been identified.

The vehicle and driver of the suspicious vehicle reported to the Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office on Monday, March 31st has been located and is of no further interest. The Sheriff’s Office would like to thank everyone for their concern and assistance in locating the suspicious vehicle.

Family members located the vehicle at a McMinnville business on Saturday afternoon, April 5th. The driver and owner of the vehicle was cooperative with Sheriff’s Deputies, and stated he had driven to the Sheridan area to look for and purchase boat parts and became lost while looking for the business. Sheriff’s Deputies were able to confirm the driver and his dog had been to the area on the day of the reported incident looking for the boat shop, and ultimately made a purchase there. 

And to refresh your memory, here’s the original story…caught on tape!

Readers — This McSweeney’s post by  Beth Levine and Liz Dancho is soooo good. It’s called “Parenting Tips I Learned from Law & Order: SVU” and includes such advice as:

Don’t raise your kids in New York City. They will end up running their own adult website and spending all their money on video games.

Don’t raise your kids in Connecticut. They will just steal your car and take joy rides into New York with their friends, who will most likely kill them and leave them in the trunk.

Warn your kids to stay inside on garbage day. Piles of trash almost always have bodies in them.

If your stepson is acting funny, check the cellar for child slaves….

Read more here. And for your viewing pleasure, here is the  star (Cameron Ocasio) of  an SVU episode involving a 9-year-old who wanted to ride the subway alone:

Cameron Ocasio starred in a Law & Order episode about a boy who takes the subway alone.

Cameron Ocasio 

Needless to say, it did not end well. And here is my son who rode the subway alone at 9. He’s fine. – L

And here's Izzy Skenazy, when he took the subway alone. Hmmm.

Izzy Skenazy. 

Readers — The Onion gets it. They always do: 


As a parent, worrying is second nature. You’re constantly afraid that something could go wrong. Your child could get sick, or get in an accident, or even just not fit in at school. Sure, there’s joy and pride and fulfillment, but there’s also an unavoidable stream of dread. And all of these worries of course pale in comparison to every parent’s worst nightmare: losing your child to Gorchul, the Dark Sorcerer of Time.

It’s a terrifying thought that crosses the mind of any parent from time to time. Because Gorchul is real, he’s out there, and you never know if it’s going to be your child who will one day be abducted in their sleep by the mad chrono-wizard and dragged screaming to the nether planes of time.

That’s the hardest thing about being a parent, really: the reality that, no matter how hard you work to keep your kid safe, in the back of your mind there’s always that nagging feeling that you don’t really have control over what happens to them after they leave for school. Or even when they’re at home, standing right in front of you, as Gorchul has been known to appear anywhere, tear a rift in the fabric of space-time, and pull a child down into his primordial lair of darkness and murk before your very eyes…

Read more here.

I hate it when kids get abducted this way.

There goes another one. Sigh.

Folks — Just got this press release in my emails. Somehow, I don’t think this book — Just What kind of Mother Are You, by Paula Daly — is just what kind of summer read we’re looking for:

 It is every parent’s worst fear: a missing child. But what if the child you’ve lost was not your own? The unthinkable happens to Lisa Kallisto—an overwhelmed working mother—who takes her eye off the ball for just a moment during an impossibly hectic week, and suddenly her whole world descends into a living nightmare. Her best friend’s thirteen-year-old daughter has gone missing, on Lisa’s watch. And to make matters worse, Lucinda is the second teenage girl to disappear in the past two weeks. The first one turned up stripped bare and abandoned on the town’s main street after a horrible ordeal. Wracked with guilt over her mistake, and after having been publicly blamed by Lucinda’s family, Lisa sets out to right the wrong.

 Motherhood, marriage, and friendships are tested as this string of horrifying abductions tear through Lisa’s small-town community in the English Lake district. As she begins digging under the surface, Lisa learns that everything is not quite what it first appears to be. It seems that everyone in her picturesque village has a secret, and the investigation into Lucinda’s disappearance will force them all to expose the hidden truths they work so hard to keep buried from the world.

 Gripping and fast-paced, JUST WHAT KIND OF MOTHER ARE YOU?… explores the horrors that lurk in our everyday lives.

 Lurk, lurk, lurk. That’s what danger just loves to do. It’s always there and if you don’t see it and worry about it all the time, well, heck, that’s because it is LURKING. Duh! Take your “eye off the ball for just a moment” and suddenly you’re in a “living nightmare.”

Yes, yes, this is a novel and writers write what they hope will sell, and I wish any new author good luck. It’s just I’m so sick of how all roads (and books and TV shows and movies and Headline News stories and magazine tips and newspaper articles) lead to abduction. After all: it only takes a moment…to keep spreading fear.  - L

Ah, the empty swing. You know what THAT means, right?

Hi Readers — This just in from Anna Gonzalez, a social media producer for Headline News, the channel running a special, “Would Your Kids Pass the Predator Test?” I commented on it yesterday, saying specials like these only reinforce the idea that predators are everywhere. Anna’s note:

Thanks for the blog about the segment. I think something that Kyra Phillips said can help provide some insight into the special Friday: “As a mom, my child’s safety is my number one concern. And my greatest fear is abduction. So not only do I take this special personally, I think every family will learn from it and it will create a really healthy discussion at home.”

That’s what drove us to do the special. We want specific, helpful advise to have these uncomfortable discussions and real techniques for your kids.

Hopefully y’all will think we delivered on that promise. Let us know your take as you watch on facebook.com/raisingamericahln or #raisingamerica on twitter. The whole team keeps an eye on our social accounts, so your comments will be read by someone.

I responded: Thanks for the note! As for your host’s motivation, it’s sort of a vicious circle: Her #1 fear is of a thing that has a really infinitesimal chance of happening. But then there’s a big special about it on TV — not the first or the last — and that reinforces the idea that it should dominate our thoughts/fears about our kids.


I’d be curious if Kyra ever drives the car with her children in it. That is the #1 way kids die in America, but we are able to keep the odds in perspective and realize they are small enough that this is an acceptable “risk” to take. Because it is. But so is letting your child play in the park, even unsupervised, by a certain age — like 7 or 8.
If we kept seeing specials about the kids killed in car accidents, our perspective could well change.  - L
And then I clicked on a preview from the special:

Forget the ominous drumbeat. What’s really over the top is acting as if a gaggle of five kids together is in danger. As another commenter here once put it: The last time a group of kids got abducted together, the perp was the Pied Piper.

Hi Readers — especially, today, moms! While you eat your burnt toast and funky eggs in bed (something, by the way, my kids never did for me), here’s news to brighten your day and life, from a Washington Post article: “Five Myths About Missing Children.” It’s by David Finkelhor, who was an extremely helpful and insightful source for me when I wrote my Free-Range Kids book. He’s director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center, where he looks at facts and trends, not myths and fears, abut kids’ safety. Here’s Myth #1- L. 

Five Myths about Missing Children by David Finkelhor

The news, at the same time shocking and hopeful, about the discovery of three young women who went missing in Cleveland about a decade ago has riveted the country. The notion of a stranger grabbing a child off the street occupies a prominent place in popular fears. But the missing-children cases that rise to the level of news tend to distort perceptions of how often children go missing and why. It’s important to sort out the myth and reality about missing kids.

1. Most missing children have been abducted by strangers.

Stranger abductions, such as the case of the three young women in Cleveland, are fearsome because they appear random and so often involve rape or homicide. But children taken by strangers or slight acquaintances represent only one-hundredth of 1 percent of all missing children. The last comprehensive study estimated that the number was 115 in a year.

Far more common are children who have run away, have gotten lost or injured, have been taken by a family member (usually in a custody dispute) or simply aren’t where they’re expected to be because of a miscommunication. The only scenario more unusual than stereotypical kidnapping is when families falsely report a child as missing to disguise murderous deeds. ….

Read more here, to see stats on how children are safer than ever, including the fact that the Internet is NOT making kids more vulnerable to predators.
Rachel Bella Calof by Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest
Relax, moms!

Folks — As much as I literally feel my heart pounding every time I hear a story about crazy fear-mongering, or outrageous overreaction to a very small threat, I realize that there is more to life — and even this blog — than just shouting, “But they’re WRONG!” (Even though they are! They’re wrong! I swear they are!)

So today, I’d like to ask you for a story that begins: “Nothing bad happened when my kid…” And then fill in the blank with something your child did, indeed, do that other parents might consider “dangerous.” Or even that YOU , at first, considered dangerous.

Maybe your toddler climbed the jungle gym officially designated, “Age 5 and up.” Maybe your 6-year-old went to the drinking fountain outside the playground gates while you stayed inside with your baby. Maybe your 8-year-old rode her bike to the library, or your middle-schooler met up with friends for pizza at dusk and “forgot” to bring his phone!

In short: Do you have a story that can inspire other parents to dip a toe into the Free-Range world? If so, please include the age of your child and, if possible, answer these questions:

1 – What activity did your child do?

2 – Whose idea was it?

3 – Why did you permit it?

4 – What was the upshot?

5 – Would you and yours do it again?

And if your children would like to write to me themselves, they are, of course, most welcome.

In a few weeks I hope to be video-enabled so you can send me your stories that way: On a super-short video. But I’m so psyched to get started — and I am hearing from parents so starved for stories of what THEY can actually start letting their kids do — that let’s get the show on the road. (But not your kid. Your kid should look both ways first.) – L.