Trying To Keep Parenting Perspective After the Maddy Middleton Tragedy

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Here are some thoughts from readers on how to keep a rare but horrific danger in perspective, especially when tragedies like the murder of Maddy Middleton become part of the weave of everyday life (and Facebook posts), no matter how removed we may be from the town or time when they occurred:

I thought it was strangely poetic somehow that this article was imbedded as a link midway through the murder story: http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Multiple-People-Injured-by-Fallen-Tree-Kidspace-Childrens-Museum-Pasadena-319087591.html

Sometimes, things just… happen. And no one saw it coming. And no one had any warning.

And so there’s no lesson to be learned, in terms of “If only we had done x, then y wouldn’t have happened.”

But there is a lesson: that we can’t always know what’s coming, so we just have to live with certain random events that defy logic or understanding.

And this, from a while back:

Airline disasters are like strangers abducting children. They are events that get a lot of air time on the news when they happen because they are so rare. Just like we can name kids who have been abducted and killed by strangers (Adam Walsh, Etan Patz, Polly Klaas), we can also name flights which ended in disaster (Pan Am flight 103 that exploded over Lockerbie, TWA flight 800 from New York that exploded over the Atlantic Ocean).  Because these events are so rare, we end up mentioning aviation disasters and kidnappings that happened many years ago.

What never gets mentioned on the news are all of the millions of people who fly every day who make it to their destinations. The millions of kids who walk to school, take a public bus, or ride their bikes different places are also never mentioned.

True. Here’s author and theologian G.K. Chesterton on how the news inevitably points us in the wrong direction — and this was 100 years ago! (Boldface mine):

“It is the one great weakness of journalism as a picture of our modern existence, that it must be a picture made up entirely of exceptions.
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We announce on flaring posters that a man has fallen off a scaffolding. We do not announce on flaring posters that a man has not fallen off a scaffolding…. Busy editors cannot be expected to put on their posters, “Mr. Wilkinson Still Safe,” or “Mr. Jones, of Worthing, Not Dead Yet.” They cannot announce the happiness of mankind at all.
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They cannot describe all the forks that are not stolen, or all the marriages that are not judiciously dissolved. Hence the complex picture they give of life is of necessity fallacious; they can only represent what is unusual. However democratic they may be, they are only concerned with the minority.”
Parents who take the Maddy tragedy as proof that they can never let their kids venture outside unsupervised will simply insist that their job is to prevent their child’s abduction and murder.
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And since there’s no way to prove that keeping a child under constant supervision is NOT what’s preventing their murder, these parents will feel like they are in control. And THAT is the most pervasive misperception in these modern times: That if you exercise enough control, nothing can go wrong. And that if something DOES go wrong, it just proves you weren’t controlling enough.
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That smug belief blames the grieving, and gives unearned conceit to those who are not. – L.
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How we cherish the illusion of control.

How we cherish the illusion of control.

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48 Responses to Trying To Keep Parenting Perspective After the Maddy Middleton Tragedy

  1. Becky July 29, 2015 at 4:49 pm #

    People die. It’s one of those sad, but inescapable facts of life. Children are people. Thus by the transitive property of “obvious”, yes, some children will die.

    Some will die in accidents. Some will die from illnesses. Some will die in terrorist strikes, from neglect, or from physical assault. Some children will be murdered. It’s going to happen. It’s sad, and it’s not always preventable. It may happen to your child.

    Read that again: Your child may die. Think about it for a while. Realize that the worst could potentially occur, and there could be absolutely nothing you can do about it. Make peace with the idea, and put it behind you. To quote a famous novel: “Fear is the mind-killer.” You must face your fear and go beyond it in order to think clearly.

    Now, really think about what happened to this girl. She was met by someone that she and her parents knew. She was not far from her home, but within her own apartment complex. She was not abducted by some stereotypical “dirty old man”, but by another child (his being tried as an adult, notwithstanding). The situation of her death is far from what the media would have you believe is a “typical” abduction. It is, in fact, an example of what we free range parents know to be the much more common situation.

    What could the parents have done? Confine her to her family apartment? Not allow her to have any young friends or acquaintances? Schooled her in not-stranger danger? No, those are all nonsensical reactions. And there’s nothing sensible that YOU could do to prevent the same sort of thing happening to YOUR child.

    Children die. The worst could happen. Let the fear pass through you until nothing but common sense remains. Then, and only then, should you take action.

  2. Warren July 29, 2015 at 5:53 pm #

    Being born is no different than entering an old time butcher shop. You walk up to the counter, take a number and wait. And when your number is called, it is your time.

    It does not matter what you are doing, or where you are, when your number is called………….that’s it.

    Skydiving, scuba or sitting on the toilet, doesn’t matter.

  3. JP Merzetti July 29, 2015 at 7:26 pm #

    “That smug belief blames the grieving, and gives unearned conceit to those who are not.”

    Wonderful line.

    I’ve often pondered, what it is that parents really do teach their children – about the philosophies of life that will serve them well as grownups.
    I suppose a knee-jerk response to that remark might be something along the lines of……”Well, they have to survive to adulthood.”
    Of course they do.
    But in what shape?
    Afraid of their own shadows? Incapable of independent free thought?
    I didn’t have a clue what I had really absorbed from my upbringing, as a chld and as a teenager, until it was all on the line and then I of course, found out all kinds of things I didn’t know I’d learned.
    I’m pretty sure many of those things wouldn’t have even been set – had I been helicoptered, sheltered or over-protected as a kid.

    Any tragedy is what it is – and a terrible thing to have happen in anyone’s life.
    It has never been a reason to close up shop and throw away common sense and rationality.
    Life’s challenges force us to create and adjust, not run away and hide.

    Life has never been risk-free.
    The wealth of the world won’t buy it. We know that.
    Intelligence weighs out the checks and balances of risk, and we act accordingly.
    No matter what we do or don’t do, some events are going to get through the cracks in every door of security we can possibly erect and set in place.
    Life’s like that.

  4. theresa hall July 29, 2015 at 7:43 pm #

    it prove one thing that ls say most grabbers of kids are someone they know. this kid knew this guy. everyone thought they knew him to be a nice guy but the truth was that he wasn’t a nice person at all.

  5. marie July 29, 2015 at 8:02 pm #

    I agree with JP. This IS a wonderful line: That smug belief blames the grieving, and gives unearned conceit to those who are not.

    Brutal truth.

  6. Donald July 29, 2015 at 8:12 pm #

    A tree fell down and hurt children. THEY COULD HAVE BEEN KILLED!

    The answer is easy. Lets remove all trees from the world.

  7. James Pollock July 29, 2015 at 8:53 pm #

    “The answer is easy. Lets remove all trees from the world.”

    That’s overkill. We only need to keep kids away from the trees. We can do that by taking custody of kids who go near trees, and putting them in group homes in Evergreen Terrace, at the intersection of pine and oak.

  8. George July 29, 2015 at 9:09 pm #

    From what we know so far, this tragedy does not seem to have been preventable. But we have not been told the full story yet. There may still be a lesson to be learned.

  9. Anna July 29, 2015 at 10:59 pm #

    I don’t know if this is free-range or not free-range, but I honestly don’t understand how somebody so young can be so depraved. It kind of makes it hard not to believe in such a thing as bad blood, honestly.

    Also, I know many here would think this is unjust profiling, but my mom would never for one minute have trusted a 15-year-old boy who showed a strong interest in us girls at 8 years old, however nice everybody in the neighborhood thought they were.

  10. James Pollock July 29, 2015 at 11:14 pm #

    “Also, I know many here would think this is unjust profiling, but my mom would never for one minute have trusted a 15-year-old boy who showed a strong interest in us girls at 8 years old, however nice everybody in the neighborhood thought they were.”

    Apparently, there are some cultures where the child’s own parents (or male siblings) will kill their little girls if they have been alone with a boy.;

  11. lollipoplover July 30, 2015 at 7:48 am #

    “From what we know so far, this tragedy does not seem to have been preventable.”

    When did everything become preventable?
    How would you, Super George, have prevented this murder? I truly don’t understand what satisfaction others get in pointing out the fault of others.

    The definition of tragedy: a very bad event that causes great sadness and often involves someone’s death.
    We cannot prevent every bad event. Even most. Seatbelt technology, air bags, crumple zones, still don’t prevent most children from dying in automobile accidents. Yet we still drive in the car every day and assume this risk. All car accidents are preventable if we don’t drive.

  12. anonymous mom July 30, 2015 at 7:51 am #

    Are we sure this guy showed “strong interest” in the girl? I mean, it’s possible that he was a Brony and she likes MLP and they were going to watch together, or they both liked Spongebob, or they both liked eating Pop Tarts, or any other number of possibilities.

    I think we’re just wrong to be looking for “signs” in this. Because, every day 15 year old boys are spending time with 8 year old girls–siblings, cousins, neighbors, etc. And the except for this one time, the girl does not get killed.

  13. SKL July 30, 2015 at 7:51 am #

    I did say that to my friend when she was telling my 8yo daughters about Maddie (to try to scare them out of going out alone): “how many kids played outside yesterday and did NOT get hurt?”

    I have no idea which message is getting ingrained in my kids’ minds.

  14. SKL July 30, 2015 at 7:54 am #

    About trusting 15yo boys, I don’t know. I was babysitting full-time all summer before I was 15. My brothers had babysitting jobs as teens too. I don’t think any of us molested or killed any children. Again, what about the other side of the equation – how many 15yo boys played with an 8yo and did NOT kill her? Don’t they weigh in the balance?

  15. Matt July 30, 2015 at 8:26 am #

    My wife and I heard a story on CBC radio this morning that could be considered a counter to the “worst-first” thinking, especially when it comes to the whole “stranger danger” BS.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/5-year-old-flags-down-help-after-mom-knocked-out-in-car-wreck-1.3173308

  16. E July 30, 2015 at 8:26 am #

    I agree with anyone who has posted about the other child involved.

    While I understand the desire to use statistics to shed perspective on this situation, I also think you cannot expect the family and their extended community, or even ‘the media’ to view it solely in this manner.

    Society *should* want to analyze and review what led to this tragedy. Perhaps it has nothing to do with the risk of an 8 yo with some level of freedom to roam, but I presume there is something to learn from what led the alleged murderer to that point.

    Much like the rarity of movie theater violence, it’s not logical to just chalk it up to unpreventable, yet rare.

  17. anonymous mom July 30, 2015 at 9:10 am #

    @E, the movie theater discussions make sense in terms of public policy. If we’re asking, for example, whether there was any reasonable way to keep guns out of the hands of the perpetrators, that’s a question we can ask and try to answer.

    But, if the question we’re asking is how to ever keep somebody from going into a movie theater and committing violence, I’m not sure that asking that question won’t cause more harm than good. We are not so much wiser and smarter than every other generation of humans that *we* will be able to answer the question of why some people do really bad things.

    I’m not sure why we’d find a crime like this committed by a 15 year old particularly surprising, except for our contemporary belief that there’s no substantive difference between a 5 year old and a 15 year old. But, there is. A 15 year old is physically mature and has many of the same drives and impulses as older adults. They are also, though, more impulsive and less experienced (as young adults tend to be in general). It’s no more shocking that a 15 year old would do this than an 18 or 22 year old, because young people have always tended to commit the most crime. My husband was robbed at gunpoint many years ago by three teen guys who he thinks couldn’t have been more than 14-16. That’s not in any way shocking, and it’s actually the demographic that commits much of the crime in our city.

    And certainly if the idea were that the best response to movie theater violence is to simply never, ever go to a movie theater again, and to even potentially punish people who do go to movie theaters for doing something so risky, that would be a terrible outcome.

    So, is it human nature to want to know why something like this happens? Of course. I just don’t think our speculation, in this case, will get us any farther than it got our ancestors five hundred years ago who would have wondered the same thing when an individual committed a heinous act against another individual. Unlike in the theater shootings, where we could at least ask questions about things like gun laws, what are the policy outcomes in this case? Cracking down on 15 year old boys hoping to identify those most likely to commit horrific crimes? Punishing parents who allow prepubescent children to spend time alone with teens? I just don’t see our speculations leading to anything good.

  18. E July 30, 2015 at 9:26 am #

    @anon mom, the reason I included the fact that he was 15 is just because that’s the data we have on the accused. The same can be said if it was a 15 yo girl, or a 25 yo man. I’m not interested in how surprised or not I might be (and I doubt the family/community is either), but rather what led us to this point.

    I totally agree that it’s terribly sad (and incorrect) to arrive at the place that says you must supervise minors until they are 18.

    But I’m totally ok with truly examining a murder to see what *might* have made a difference. Maybe the conclusion is that nothing could have prevented it.

  19. anonymous mom July 30, 2015 at 9:47 am #

    @E, I think it’s the rhetoric of “what led us to this point” that concerns me. What point have we been led to? Where 15 year olds commit senseless acts of violence? Because human beings have been committing terrible, senseless acts of violence against one another as long as there have been humans. If we frame this as a current social problem that we can address with legislative solutions, then I think we’re both thinking about it in a very limited and ahistorical way and setting ourselves up for consequences that will harm far more people than random horrific violence does.

    But, we are never okay with concluding, “Nothing could have been done.” Once we start looking for answers, we insist on finding one, no matter how forced or simplistic or even damaging it is. So I do think there’s some wisdom, when we have an event that is obviously a tragic aberration, to simply say, “We do not currently and probably never will understand the human mind and heart well enough to explain exactly how something like this happened or propose reasonable ways to prevent it from happening again, so we’ll mourn and then move on with our lives because anything we come up with will probably do more harm than good.”

  20. E July 30, 2015 at 10:00 am #

    I’m not sure if we agree or not (hard to tell), but since it’s only been a day or so, it’s obviously premature to conclude that ‘nothing could have been done’.

  21. James Pollock July 30, 2015 at 10:09 am #

    “I think it’s the rhetoric of “what led us to this point” that concerns me. What point have we been led to?”

    The point of accepting senseless violence.

    Senseless violence may be difficult, even impossible to eradicate completely, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be made more rare. Saying “we can’t stop all the violence” doesn’t mean we can’t try… and succeed… at stopping SOME of violence.

  22. anonymous mom July 30, 2015 at 10:12 am #

    James, do you think we are *more* accepting of sense violence than people were in the past? At a time when ever murder of a white girl or woman leads to new legislation? That’s just not true.

    By all means, the perpetrator should be charged and brought to justice. But, beyond that, exactly what can we do? What good do we really think can come out of expecting every tragedy to bring us some insight that will bring us one step closer to eradicating violence for good? Utopian hopes–like a violence-free world–are often what lead to our most horrific policies.

  23. anonymous mom July 30, 2015 at 10:23 am #

    Even if we’re thinking about what, say, this boy’s parents could have done, would that really have helped or be widely applicable?

    It kind of reminds me of the “warning signs” that were given out after Columbine. Ignoring the fact that they were based on misrepresentations of the perpetrators and the event (the shooters were more bullies than bullied, for example), as far as I know not a single actual school shooting was prevented because of these lists, but many schools adopted zero-tolerance policies that have harmed many students. Is it possible that, say, Eric Harris’s parents could have taken more of an interest in what was going on in his life and found out what was going on and stopped it? Sure. That is possible. That is always a possibility. But, there’s very little we can do usefully with that as a society. If we conclude, for example, that the school should have taken some of the violent rhetoric that used in class assignments more seriously–as we have–what do we get? Zero tolerance policies that crack down hard, and sometimes criminally, on students who use violent rhetoric in class assignments. And the overall effect of that has been negative, not positive, because the reality is that the vast majority of the time the student in question posed no danger.

    So, yes, I do think we have to accept that senseless violence will sometimes happen. That doesn’t mean that, with our own kids, we can’t be involved in their lives and aware of what’s going on with them. It doesn’t mean that we can’t make our own choices about what is and is not safe for our child. It doesn’t mean we can’t try to encourage, in our children and communities, cultures of care and compassion. But it does mean that we accept that even with our best intentions and even best actions, we will not stop every act of violence–even every act of violence against children–and that large-scale attempts to do so will often bring unintended consequences that do more harm to society than isolated violent incidents.

    I also think we need to realize that often our “concern” is voyeuristic. Of course a society that entertains itself primarily with stories of women and children being brutalized and murdered by sadistic killers will want to know what was going on inside this guy’s head and what led to these events. It’s a real-life CSI! It’s a murder mystery come to life, and we want a satisfying conclusion with all the loose ends tied up and a clear motive. Part of me wants that, too. I am no less fascinated by the psychological of those who commit unthinkable, heinous acts than anybody else. But let’s own it for what it is–a kind of voyeuristic, entertaining fascination–rather than pretending it’s a virtue. Because, again, that is what leads us to demanding white girl laws and zero tolerance policies, and those have gotten us nowhere good.

  24. Havva July 30, 2015 at 11:18 am #

    “That smug belief blames the grieving, and gives unearned conceit to those who are not.”

    So very true.

    I had the misfortune to be close to an awful tragedy that made the national news. While I was painstakingly going through lists trying to make contact and figure out who was alive and who was dead. While I was listening to uncertainty, brushes with death, and tales of separations. While everywhere was trauma. While we still hadn’t grasped the bounds of our tragedy, never mind grappling with how exactly this happened… the whole nation was making up stories about how it all could have been prevented, if only…

    In the evening I called my parents again. I hoped to get relief from the exhaustion of spending a full day trying to count heads and figure out who was missing. But my own mother spouted some line about how it wouldn’t have happened if only ….

    If only…
    If only…
    If only…

    It’s like an incantation against the messy truth of tragedy. We all know how to do it. Focus on something you believe can be controlled. Dismiss as false or irrelevant the things that might contradict it. Reduce, simplify, just keep chanting “if only” and it casts out the fear that you too are vulnerable. It casts out the grief. Of course it also casts out the grieving.

    Everyone wants answers, but few care about the quality of those answers. Fewer still will accept that sometimes the answer is simply that to live is to be vulnerable.

  25. E July 30, 2015 at 11:20 am #

    I hesitated to post on this post (and chose not to on the other one) and realize I probably should not have.

    As a parent, when bad things have happened to friends or classmates of my children, I look to understand (if I can) what happened and reflect on those things in regard to my children (whether it be our rules, their peer group, our child’s own behavior, etc) to see if there is anything that we should be paying more attention to, if we should adapt our approach, etc.

    I have no issue with a community doing the same thing.

    I sincerely doubt that anyone that reads this website would be considering a complete reversal to their attitude towards raising children and the amount of freedom they enjoy. I understand that people who are in this child’s community might feel differently — especially now. It’s part of being human.

  26. James Pollock July 30, 2015 at 11:31 am #

    “James, do you think we are *more* accepting of sense violence than people were in the past? At a time when ever murder of a white girl or woman leads to new legislation? That’s just not true.”

    I notice you call out that every murder of white girl leads to new legislation. (It doesn’t, although new laws do tend to be named after them). Meanwhile, back in the ‘hood… just another gang shooting. Nothing we can do about those…

  27. JR July 30, 2015 at 12:00 pm #

    There’s a Simpsons episode where a bear is spotted in Springfield. Homer and the townspeople angrily clamor for the mayor to do something about the ‘constant bear attacks,’ even though there was only one bear spotted and it was passive. With townspeople screaming, “Think of the children! Won’t somebody please think of the children!” the town launches the Springfield Bear Patrol, complete with roving vans and stealth bombers.

    Lisa says the bear patrol is ridiculous. Homer points out that the bear patrol must be working because no more bears have been sighted. Lisa then picks up a rock and says that by Homer’s logic, this rock must keep tigers away, because we also haven’t seen any tigers.

    Lots of parents out there have instituted bear patrols and even found some tiger rocks to try to keep their kids safe. And the sad part is that it seems to be socially acceptable.

  28. Meg July 30, 2015 at 12:04 pm #

    I can’t be the only parent that allows my children freedom that instructs them to not go into the home of another person without permission, that reminds them on the way out the door that they should only leave the area with mommy, daddy or the trusted adult that knows our code word. They will come home and ask if they can go play in a friend’s house, sometimes the older ones will get there and call me and check if it is okay for them to be inside. Even with people they know and trust they have been told to only go with them when either we tell them before that say someone like Grandpa or their Uncle is going to pick them up or they know the code word. Maybe I am an over protective free range parent? Maybe that makes me only “cage free” and not “free range”?

  29. Andre L. July 30, 2015 at 12:37 pm #

    I don’t like the way some commentators here assume a completely fatalistic approach to serious crimes or accidents, as if absolutely nothing could ever be done to prevent them.

    I agree that it is unreasonable to devise any sort of action program, laws and/or policies that totally prevent all these rare but vicious crimes, or all rare but deadly accidents. However, that shouldn’t preclude a reasonable discussion, one that for obvious reasons can’t involve those immediately affected by such events, about measures that might be taken.

    Specifically, I think society as a whole needs to come up with some better way to deal with teenage depression, suicidal thoughts and other angst that goes far beyond the motions of adolescence. By “better way” I don’t mean mandatory reporting laws that create some paranoid state in schools or youth groups, but mental health services and the offer of proper outlets for teens to discuss their issues.

    That doesn’t mean such measures would have prevented this tragedy.

    Now something I don’t like is this ex-post-facto search for “signs of evil” such as the music he uses to listen, the color and style of his clothes, the fact he plays video-games or else.

  30. Eric S July 30, 2015 at 12:37 pm #

    It’s really funny how some people are completely clueless. In my view, the more control you try to exert, the less you actually have control. And this doesn’t include the stress you take on. Which everyone knows, stress is just bad period. Both physically and mentally. So when your impeded mentally and physically by the stress of trying to control everything, you make mistakes. Your judgement is erred. So now, you are doing the very things that you fear of happening. Fear makes people think illogically and unreasonably. And because they are human, they don’t like to be inconvenienced. So they take shortcuts to alleviate that stress. Again, doing the very things they are trying to avoid. When the easiest, fun, and productive ways is the old ways of raising children. All they have to do is look at their own childhood, and let their kids have the same one.

  31. Dean Whinery July 30, 2015 at 12:51 pm #

    Of course, the tragedy in California is profoundly saddening.
    Likewise, the deaths of children by a falling tree.
    Should we now post Tax-paid guards around trees?
    My ward was part of a week-long Scout leadership course in a beautiful forested camp. No trees fell. He said the best part was when the Scouts were set free from training lectures, and allowed to actually DO THINGS…hmmm, sounds like Free-Range to me. And they all came back alive.

  32. SanityAnyone? July 30, 2015 at 2:06 pm #

    Irrelevant: I’ve posted Adam Lambert’s version of “Mad World” on my FB at least three times in the last decade. I enjoy songs that bring out a wider range of emotions. I love a good angry or sad song once in a while. Cat Stevens’ “Sad Lisa” and Fiona Apple’s “Sleep to Dream” are other examples.

    Relevant: A gigantic maple limb fell at a friend’s home across the street two days ago on a sunny, windless day. There was no warning. There is a new puppy at that house. My kids often play in that spot along with other neighborhood kids. I have been having little and not so little panic attacks about what could have been. The limb is big enough to have killed them all at once. That moment I was lucky they were inside watching a movie on a sunny day. Now I am afraid of all the maples, poplars, tulips and sweet gums who well exceed 50 years all over my neighborhood.

    I could be paralyzed with fear. I am fighting hard with myself to make them go play again, and they have had a lot more TV time the last 2 days. We have a wonderful neighborhood with sidewalks, a pool, kids riding bikes and friends. Though the loss of one of my children would destroy us both, I can’t recommend that children remain caged. That’s no way to live a life. We all have to take our chances to some extent. We have to deal with the stress and fear related to precious child rearing and still try to make reasonable decisions.

  33. E July 30, 2015 at 2:06 pm #

    @Eric S. You make a lot of gross generalizations and judgement.

    First off, there is literally no way my children could have the same childhood I had because they had 2 working parents for the vast majority of their childhood, while I had 1. We live in a a neighborhood with some stay at home parent(s) and some 2 working parents households. Off the top of my head, I can count 4 different elementary schools that were attended by kids that were only 4 houses apart!

    So, while there might be some attitudes (which is what I believe FR is about) that can be the same as a generation ago, the practical experience is going to be different.

    Calling people “clueless” does not help anything.

  34. Kim July 30, 2015 at 3:18 pm #

    This is local to me. I didn’t know Maddy, but I know several people who did, and she was my daughter’s age. It has been debating for our community.
    For me, personally, it triggered and clarified memories of my own sexual assault at Maddy’s age, at the hands of a teenage neighbor who lured me into his garage. I was lucky; when it hurt, I was loud, and he let me go. I was just a girl, riding my bike in front of my house, the way Maddy was on her scooter. Neither of us were doing anything dangerous.
    What strikes me about the similarity between our stories is the amount of freedom that I had as opposed to Maddy. Neither of us had any reason not to trust our attackers- we had known them for years. It should not have happened to either of us, and my heart breaks for her mother. But it angers me that we keep approaching the problem as if it’s the victims’ problem, rather than the fact that certain teenage boys are deciding that they are entitled to girls’ bodies. Something in our society is leading them to that conclusion. That’s what needs changing, not the ability of children to play outside.

  35. Havva July 30, 2015 at 3:27 pm #

    I don’t think anyone here is opposed to society working toward minimizing tragedies.
    Nor do I think anyone disagrees that to learn what can be learned, horrible things must be examined.

    But the commentary that people engage in, in the face of tragedy, is no examination of facts, no learning.

    The public discourse that surrounds tragedy has as much in common with those valuable investigations as a vulture’s feeding has in common with a coroner’s autopsy.

  36. E July 30, 2015 at 3:41 pm #

    Sometimes things are so shocking and terrible and traumatic that people can’t just be in the same mental space as they were before it happened. Maybe part of the community can get there eventually, but perfectly understandable that the reaction is severe. It’s a complete tragedy and humans react to that.

    Of course people are going to be saying “what if” at this point because they want they loved one back!

  37. Jason July 30, 2015 at 5:21 pm #

    You never know where thinking might lead, so it’s best not to indulge. Just go with the flow, man.

  38. Jeff July 31, 2015 at 6:15 am #

    That’s a great Chesterton quote. It fits nicely with our understanding that we have a cognitive bias towards negative experiences even if they are outliers. And if I remember correctly, then being outliers makes us focus on then even more.

  39. Ezekiel July 31, 2015 at 10:28 am #

    So I am afraid of things… Anxiety is in my genetic makeup. When it comes to my kids it triples. I am afraid they will drown when they are out in the water. I am afraid cars will run them down on their bikes when they ride. I am afraid that lettuce they just ate has ecoli. CNN has now even convinced me that escalators are likely to eat me and my children at any moment (you guys saw this right?). And of course I am afraid that some random stranger will take my kids away from me. Its terrifying.

    Of course, all of the above save maybe the escalator (ecoli included) is far more likely to happen than some wack job taking my children. But fear has little to do with statistical realities for most of us. Many folk feel safer having a gun in the house even though stats show this does not make us safer. I feel safer in a car than a plane. Again, stats show I am wrong but that does not matter to my lizard brain.

    With the latest tragedy in Santa Cruz my fear would drive me to lock the kids away in safety… Watch them closer… Leave no opportunity for any harm to come to them. But what I am really managing here is my fear, not their safety. Back to those statistics, escalators are not likely to eat me or my children nor is a stranger likely to take them. Most of what we do is to limit our fear, limit our anxiety and make it easier to get through the day. Its like how we ask them to call when they get to their friends house (I do this). This does not keep them safer, it just lets us know they are safe.

    On the flip side, if I spend all my time tracking and monitoring my children I wont have time and energy to be a decent father. This is not a fear, its a fact. I wont have time left to put a good meal on the table and enjoy it with my family. I wont have the patience left at the end of the day to play a game with them. I will dump money into monitoring systems instead of saving for a family vacation. The end result will be a child more scared of the world than I am, and I would not wish that on my enemy let alone my child.

    So I bite back my fear and try and learn to trust them and the world, the whole time praying to the agnostic unisex colorless god in the sky/tree/sea that they are safe. I attempt to find that balance of safety nets which make me feel good without stopping them from enjoying a salad in the waves.

  40. George August 1, 2015 at 1:04 pm #

    Here is more info on the perp. Filipino mom on food stamps, absent Mexican dad, criminal records, etc.
    http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_28566115/teens-turbulent-family-life-and-death-santa-cruz

    Should we check out the family before allowing an 8yo child to visit another apartment? Just asking.

  41. Joan August 1, 2015 at 6:07 pm #

    Way to optimize your page views on the death of a young girl with free range parents. Absolutely disgusting. I came here because I knew you’d do this too. Snug is right.

  42. Joan August 1, 2015 at 6:11 pm #

    @kim, my experience also and quite common too. Everyone says strangers aren’t coming for the kids so stop worrying. I’m not worried as much over strangers but the people we know. And they know how free or not we are and that’s who they target. This is why single moms kids are more targeted than those with dads. These are facts people, not paranoia.

  43. James Pollock August 1, 2015 at 8:45 pm #

    “Way to optimize your page views on the death of a young girl with free range parents.”

    Yes, that should cause a huge spike in ad revenues.

  44. Valerie Parkhurst August 2, 2015 at 6:31 am #

    I see your still attempting to stay relevant Lenore. Perhaps you should inform your followers of your efforts to abolish the registry and residency restrictions for all sex offenders. You might even want to link that pathetic speech you gave at the RSOL aka Nambla conference.

    You have gone so far off the deep end that Parents everywhere should just protest your presence in our air space.

  45. Buffy August 3, 2015 at 8:41 am #

    @Valerie regular readers of this site know exactly what Lenore stands for and speaks against. You, apparently, don’t.

  46. Lety August 10, 2015 at 2:43 pm #

    It is the parent’s responsibility to keep children safe .

  47. Lety August 10, 2015 at 2:47 pm #

    You cant trust anyone with your child .

  48. Lety August 10, 2015 at 2:48 pm #

    Lazy parenting