Readers — Like the rest of you, I am shaken by the story of the three young women held hostage in Cleveland for years. Like you, I’m guessing, this brings up other stories — of Elizabeth Smart, Jaycee Dugard. I hope you will understand I am not dishonoring their trauma by trying to keep it in perspective.
A story like this makes many parents re-think any freedom for their kids. That’s because we immediately feel for the prisoners — which is as it should be — but also because it will be used as a reference point whenever at least some parents think, “Can I let my child go outside unaccompanied?”
That’s in part because we have been trained to think that way: That any horrible thing that happens to any child anywhere is immediately likely to happen to every child everywhere. I am betting that some media outlets are preparing pieces now on how to keep your child from getting kidnapped and held captive for 10 years with two other hostages.
The other day I asked for your stories that begin, “Nothing bad happened when my kid…” My reason was to try to add stories to the other side of the news. The non-news side, as it were. While something terrible happened to these three, we will never hear of the tens of millions of young people who go about their business and all’s well. The news, by definition, is rare.
Tim Gill of Rethinking Childhood has a rule that I like, to help parents stay sane when confronted (sometimes over and over) with horrific news:
Realize that you can feel sympathy with people who have suffered a terrible loss, without forever having to see the world through their eyes.
Good luck to us all, and thank God those young women are free. – L.