Readers — Like the rest of you, I am shaken by the story of yznhkkrazd
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. Â 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 Â whenever at leastÂ 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, Â “Nothing bad happened when my kid…”Â My reason was to try to add stories to the other side of the news. The non-news side, as it were. Â 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. Â The news, by definition, is rare.
Tim Gill of Rethinking ChildhoodÂ has a rule that I like, to help parents stay sane when confronted (sometimes over and over) with horrific news:
RealizeÂ 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.
Thanks again for this shout-out, Lenore. Like many others, I find it hard to maintain any perspective when I hear accounts of terrible crimes or tragedies (the April Jones case is in the courts here in the UK, reminding us all too painfully of the devastation her family have experienced). The rule you quote is my attempt to reconcile the force of those emotions – and our caring impulses – with the fact that every second, around the world, children play, explore and have everyday adventures that enrich their days and help to make them who they are. I hope your readers will find it of value.
This was what was on the local NYC news channel this morning when I tried to catch the weather. I say NYC news, because clearly, this is being reported nationally, and will potentially leave a whole nation of parents feeling like it is closer than it is. The story Lenore linked mentioned that one of the young women was taken at age 20 and another was leaving her job at age 17. My news station did not mention that the women were not young children when they were taken. Entirely horrifying and still terrible, but I can’t imagine keeping my 17 or 20 year old daughter captive in my own home, to protect her from being taken and help captive by some lunatic.
Tim and Lenore, as a reader of both your sites, I found that the rule spoke to me immediately. It is exactly the right perspective, and worded with great clarity. It should be put on plaques, fridge magnets, or T shirts to remind people daily of the balancing act that is needed.
This case seems to make a stronger argument for adults not going to work, since they are 17 and 20.
My heart goes out to these families, but like Mr. Gill said, I can’t spend forever looking at the world through other people’s eyes. My children deserve a childhood. I’d say, especially given that the risk of kidnap is ridiculously small, that the benefits outweigh the risks.
It came up in conversation this morning at work that one of the suspects was a bus driver, and one of my co-workers declared that “that’s why [her] nephew doesn’t ride the bus”. Really?
I think a very important thing is, that came up in this news story is moms, listen to that gut. A neighbor of these men “got a bad vibe” about that house, as reported by CNN, and wouldn’t let her kids unattended around it. Live life free, while being guided by our gut instinct.
Recently, a neighbor’s son (A) and a friend (B) from school were physically bullid by some neighborhood kids they did not know. It occurred within the block between A’s house an a local “corner” store and ended on his porch. My son is friends with A and B; often times I let him walk down the block to see if A is home to play.
My first thought was “Are our kids not safe on our own block?” Fortunately, my second thought was “How am I going to relate this story to my son so that he won’t be afraid to explore his world?”
I matter of factly told him what happened. But I also explained to him why I told him… he needs to know that not so nice things happen in the world and they happen to all kinds of people. He needs to know that not so nice things happen to us or our friends sometimes in our lives. He needs to know that when not so nice things happen, there are things we can do to control them, but, more specifically, how we can respond to them and move on or even work to help prevent the anger, fear or frustration that leads to these not so nice events.
Impressively, he skipped over his normal response of “I’m not gonna do that anymore/never gonna try that” and jumped right into trying to understand why kids might do such things. A great conversation ensued to say the least.
On one news-site, someone is screaming (ALL CAPS!!!) about better background checks, since the apparent perp is a bus driver. It’s the fault of the bus authority’s HR department, you see. Anyone can see that.
BL — what were they supposed to background check the guy for? People can be so DUMB when they’re scared?
Taradlion — it’s true that national reporting will make people feel closer than it is, but in this case, at least, I don’t put any blame on the media. This is an unusual, bizarre, newsworthy thing. This is atypical even among the atypical category of stranger abductions.
I’ll blame the media if it’s in the national news every day for the next week, but I really don’t expect that.
I make it a point to see the world through other’s eyes. That is so that I can understand them, not so that I can live my life like them. It’s how *I* understand others. It’s not the rule of life.
I think it’s an amazing story. Instead of focusing on the tragedy of this story, I’m focusing on the strength that these young women must have had to survive for 10 years.
Lilac — yes, because these were BOYS that were taken, and teenage BOYS have been taken and held like this SO OFTEN!!!!
Sheesh, it’s a rare incident,and your co-worker is worried about a particular version of the rare incident that is even rarer, if not unheard of.
Interesting to hear the families talk about this. “We need to be neighbors. We need to look out for each other.”
Happy Mother’s Day to three joyous moms this week. (I’m including Amanda Berry since her 6yo has also been set free.)
I’m not going to second-guess the mindset of these girls, especially until the whole story is told, but as a Free Range child myself, all I know if this had happened to me unless I was shackled there is no way in hell I would stay in a house for ten years without trying to escape.
I don’t think the news media will ever have a top story of “parents hold own kids captive for years, for fear of this or that”, even though that’s what they promote.
If we turn off the (negative) news, we will be better off.
Nancy Grace is on TV right now telling us that the world is horribly dangerous and we have to be “always vigilant” and can never let our kids be unaccompanied anywhere. Ugh. I have always disliked Nancy Grace. She strikes me as judgmental, not all that bright, often uninformed or misinformed, and alarmist. I hate that so many people will take her words as the gospel truth and stop letting their kids walk anywhere…
@ Joe – excellent point!!
Joe- companies are targeting customers to keep your kids home. I recently saw an ad for Carlton Pools to add a backyard swimming pool to “keep your kids at home” vs. the big, bad world (and buses!) but no mention of drowning as a leading cause of death….
The story of theses girls is indeed sensational but I hope the focus is placed on their amazing survival and not the Nancy Grace propaganda promoting leash laws for children.
The problem with this story isn’t that it is being reported nationally – it IS interesting news. The problem is that it is being distorted. THESE WERE NOT CHILDREN. Two of the three were grown/almost grown women when kidnapped. Stop referring to them as “girls” as if they were 10 years old.
@LegalMist – God I hate Nancy Grace. I really wish people would treat her for what she is – a disgraced lawyer who engaged in prosecutorial misconduct so serious that she has been called a lying, cheat at least twice by appellate courts, was fired and was blacklisted as an attorney everywhere in the state of Georgia (not exactly a hotbed of protecting defendant’s rights).
We had two different Amber Alerts/kidnappings in the past month in our area — THAT TURNED OUT TO BOTH BE HOAXES. Of course, the news coverage of the initial event – high, dramatic. The coverage of the hoax — buried on a back page or not covered at all.
One was a custody dispute so Mom hid kiddo in a motel & claimed kiddo had been abducted, the other was a teenager who claimed someone tried to lure her into a van (but no one had!)
Donna, you are right.
These were not girls but young adults (the one disappeared on her way home from a job). And Nancy Grace should be required to change her name to DisGrace for perpetuating the myth that kidnappings happen every day and instilling fear and anxiety in children for no reason.
I was asked to watch my daughter’s best friend last week because she was afraid to stay home alone (even though her almost 13 yo sister would be there with her). I took her with us to my son’s baseball game and asked on the car ride there why she’s afraid to stay home without her parents (she’s 10). She said it’s because somebody my take her and then she cited the Jaycee Duggard case as her point.
We were stuck in hellish baseball traffic and I asked her if she knew the leading cause of death for someone her age and she said kidnappings and murders. Nope, car accidents. I went on to tell her that despite being driven by her parents everywhere, she is MOST likely to be killed on her way to gymnastics or even this baseball game. Told her we were in a rolling death chamber and to keep her eyes open for real dangers, not the mythical boogeymen she believes are everywhere.
The other pertinent information is that the initial crime, the kidnapping, occurred ten years ago. I’m sorry at least one of the mothers died without knowing her daughter was alive, but I’m not going to get too worried over something that happened a decade and thousands of miles away.
@LegalMist, Nancy Grace’s job is NOT reporting facts, giving intelligent analysis, or valid advice. Her job is to attract viewers. Period.
The more she screeches, the more viewers she gets, which is what she is paid to do. Want to shut her up? Stop watching.
What disgusted me was seeing John Walsh on the news pretty much saying that we should always assume someone was abducted.
Lenore, one important thing to note about this case. These girls escaped because of the brave help lent by … a stranger! Once Berry started banging on the door and screaming for help, Charles Ramsey ran over, helped bust her out and called 911. Reinforces something you’ve often said: if kids are in trouble, asking strangers for help is not a bad thing!
The victims were 14, almost 17, and 22 at the time of their abductions. I would not say it is wrong to call two of them “girls.” At least the 14yo also had mental delays, from what I’ve heard. What is wrong with acknowledging that these are teen “girls” who were abducted and harmed?
I also don’t see a problem with this being national news and over-celebrated. (It’s local here, so basically it’s the only news today.) I’d rather hear a happy ending reported all day than an alleged unsolved abduction being reported all year.
As for Nancy Grace, I don’t know how anyone can stand to watch her. Does she in fact have an audience? I wouldn’t worry too much about her influence, frankly. It’s pretty obvious that she’s a loon.
What disgusts me is someone beginning a sentence with “What disgusted me was seeing John Walsh…” John Walsh can say what he wants. Maybe if you lose a child like he did, you’d keep your mouth shut. He has worked too hard to keep kids/people safe to be denigrated in such a forum as this. You are all so superior because you are all so tough as nails when tragedies occur.
Hey edie? You’re on the wrong site. Kids ARE safe almost all of the time, and John Walsh has done nothing but make us believe that they’re not.
Edie, it’s true John Walsh can say what he wants. In his position of influence, however, it’s somehow tragic that his assertions that children are not safe in this world lead many parents to raise kids in a way that actually SUBVERTS their safety instead of ensuring it. Children who learn coping skills and independent decision-making, in age-appropriate increments, are far better prepared for lives in which they thrive.
I wonder what Patty Wetterling has to say about all this? She seems to have come to her senses after decades of encouraging the kind of paranoia John Walsh endorses.
lolliplover, that little girl was about 6 when Jaycee Dugard hit the news. She by rights (unless she is a very unusual ten year old who follows four year old news stories) shouldn’t even KNOW about who Jaycee Dugard is — except that someone’s telling her stuff that she doesn’t need to know and scaring her. That annoys the heck out of me.
I’m not saying someone would be wrong for telling a 10 year old about a case like that, but she wasn’t a ten year old when the story broke. I can’t see any good reason for telling a six year old about it, or any good reason why it should be a common enough topic of discussion all these years later for a 10 year old know about it.
missjanec “Iâ€™m not going to second-guess the mindset of these girls”
Really? ‘Cause it seems like you just did.
It’s very hard to keep perspective. That’s because media rating revolve around distortion. The more that you can get people off their perspective, the better the ratings. Lets make them all fear junkies.
I don’t blame the media entirely. They only supply what the public demand. There are a lot of fear, drama, tragedy, and bad news junkies out there. The media didn’t create them all.
I take my cue from Jaycee Dugard herself, who refuses to allow herself to helicopter and overprotect her daughters.
From her memoir, A Stolen Life:
“It still scares me, the fact that I canâ€™t protect my daughters from everything. What mother wouldnâ€™t want to protect their child from the dangers of the world? But I have to choose to believe they will both be okay and realize that sometimes when we shelter our children too much, we are really protecting ourselves.”
Unfortunately, you can’t protect people from themselves. As Lilac pointed out, …. It came up in conversation this morning at work that one of the suspects was a bus driver, and one of my co-workers declared that â€œthatâ€™s why [her] nephew doesnâ€™t ride the busâ€.
There are a lot of people that would much rather lock up their own kids for 10 years for fear that a stranger might do it instead.
@ missjanenc, “if this had happened to me unless I was shackled there is no way in hell I would stay in a house for ten years without trying to escape.
Victim blame much? For all you know, this was the first chance any of the three had, or maybe it was the 512th attempt, or the 2517th attempt.
What matters is that she saw an opportunity and took it, and there was someone willing to get involved on the other side of the door.
Lenore–so well put. You expressed exactly how I feel when i hear about these tragedies. The focus of compassion must be on those who have suffered, without adding our irrational fears that something like that will happen to us or our own kids.
I’m glad you pointed out Elizebeth Smart. I’ve read so many articles about her, and one thing that amazes me is her parents kept their ‘free range’ type of thinking. They put their trust in God, and after she was found, they made sure she had the normal life she deserved. I remember reading on article about how her family went to a restaurant after she was found. She was allowed to go to the bathroom, by herself, and people were thinking, ‘how can her parents let her go out of sight at all after what happened!’ Well the Smart family wanted their daughter to continue to have a normal life, and that is what she got. She went to college by herself, served an LDS mission in France, and a year ago she got married. She moved on, and is continuing to live a normal life. I thank her parents big time for what they did for her after she was found. It’s a good story for all of us to think about. She’s an amazing young woman!
I think that one of the most striking things was Charles Ramsay, the neighbor, saying “”I knew somethin’ was wrong when this pretty little white girl ran into a black man’s arms” How sad that such a clearly good man was so startled that a ‘pretty little white girl’ would turn to him for safety.
“I canâ€™t see any good reason for telling a six year old about it, or any good reason why it should be a common enough topic of discussion all these years later for a 10 year old know about it.”
Maybe the 10-year-old can read? I knew about the Lindbergh baby kidnapping at that age, even though it happened well before I was born. I read about it.
@Rhiannon – must say our family had a different take on it. We’re hoping he gets some kind of movie contract, seriously – he seems a natural performer, LOL!
How great to have a ‘good news’ story for a change, and great to see neighbours helping each other.
Ten year old can read what, BL? Four year old newspapers? How many ten year olds do that? As I said, maybe this one’s really unusual, but that’s the less likely possibility.
The Lindbergh kidnapping was a much bigger event in its time, and remained part of history for longer, because Lindbergh was such a HUGE public figure. Jaycee Dugard isn’t nearly as famous these days, except among the set of people who like to stir up horror stories.
That’s my point — not that it’s impossible that a ten year old could know about this, but that the overwhelming likelihood is that the ten year old only knows about it because of people telling horror stories that don’t really have any value in the telling, especially to little kids. And look at the result.
Rhiannon, maybe in his neighborhood it wasn’t “sad,” it was just pure reality. I mean, it is overall sad that life is like that, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that there is anything sad about his reaction or his attitude.
A pet peeve of mine–why, in the articles talking about the 6 year-old, are they covering up her face? What purpose does that serve, and isn’t that just giving into irrational fear all the more?
Although this is good news, you are still going to have mothers around the world, not allowing their children of all ages and both genders, to do things. And they will cite this case as their reasoning.
As for the ten yr old afraid to stay at home, with her older sibling, because of an abduction years before, well that is nothing more than child abuse. Sorry but it is. The only way the child can become that scared is by having parents that drill the fear into her. And in my opinion that is abuse, mental and emotional.
LRH, they are probably covering up the little girl’s face so that when she goes to school etc., she won’t be recognized as the girl who was a product of abduction / rape / who knows what else. I was dismayed that some of the photos did show her face.
If I am being ugly or disrespectful I apologize, but frankly I am GLAD to hear that some articles are showing the face, frankly. I think this whole covering up of child’s faces in photos is just plain silly.
Understand–I am not getting on the parents in this case (as I do sometimes in other cases). They’ve been through enough to where the last thing they would need is someone badgering them over such a thing, I think we can all agree to that.
To me, this is just more of what Lenore has talked about in terms of photos of kids NOT involved in such things and their face was covered up in the photos out of fear that failure to do so would be endangering them. It’s similar, to me, of the other occasions where they have made great pains to tell people not to take photos of someone’s child without the parent’s permission that it was wrong and perhaps even creepy to do so, as if someone taking someone’s photo makes them a pedophile or a weirdo. At times they have even told parents they can’t take photos of their own child participating in sports without getting permission from the parents of the other kids on the teams too. To me this is more of that sort of thing, frankly.
To me, that’s irrational fear just like the irrational fear we’re having to corral regarding childhood & life in general in the aftermath of this. I mean, gee, the women were 16 and working at Burger King. Wasn’t that a good thing, that they were working at a job and earning their own money? I would say so, but of course now you will have people thinking their 16 year olds won’t be allowed to work night-shift at fast food because, hey, didn’t you hear about the Amanda Wheeler case? Those 16 year old are going to be chomping at the bit and very excited at the prospect of getting their own job and spending money, and aren’t going to appreciate their parents trying to “protect” them.
The last thing we need is more irrational fear, that’s for sure.
LRH, in this case I don’t think it has anything to do with the general feeling some have about keeping kids’ photos off the internet. It’s to protect this individual child’s privacy. She doesn’t need to have “product of rape” stamped on her forehead. The poor kid has enough to deal with without adding on that kind of publicity.
And what purpose would it serve to show this child’s face? All it would do is reward the nosy and sensationalist gossip world with another tidbit of information none of us needs. Why does it matter what the child looks like? It doesn’t. People need to move on to other things and let this family pick up the broken pieces of their lives.
I understand the stomach-turning fear that such stories produce. Really, I do. But honestly, these sensational kidnapping stories donâ€™t concern me much. Yes, they are fascinating, and the media wonâ€™t let us avoid learning every lurid detail. But they are sensational precisely because they are so unusual and unlikely. Itâ€™s not that I think, â€œOh, it canâ€™t happen to my daughters.â€ Of course it can â€” just like being struck by lightning could happen to them. Actually, itâ€™s statistically far, far more likely that theyâ€™ll be hit by lightning. Or get in a car wreck (especially during prom season). Or be abused by that â€œnice boyâ€ from a â€œgood family.â€ The world is full of dangers, and we canâ€™t protect our daughters from every horrible thing that may happen to them.
As a dad, I want to prepare my daughters to face the world confidently and courageously, dangers be damned. That doesnâ€™t mean being cavalier about risk or ignoring basic safety measures (wear a helmet and a seat belt, let folks know your whereabouts, donâ€™t go home with a drunk frat boy, etc.). Instead, it means recognizing the world for what it is: a dangerous but beautiful place to be explored and discovered anew each day.
Let Her Eat Dirt
A dad’s take on raising tough, adventurous girls
SKL One thing I will concede–none of the face obliteration thoughts (and I still respectfully disagree with them although I know & respect where you’re coming from) would even be thought about as much if it weren’t for the fact that this is receiving so much attention and being sensationalized about so much to start with.
The only other thing I would say–if “we need to move on & not be labeled by this” is the prevailing thought, & one could certainly understand if that’s the case, then the adults would also probably be well served by not being photographed so much either. That’s one of the main things to me–the adults certainly don’t need to be labeled by this & are just as innocent as the 6-year old, yet their faces are everywhere & aren’t being covered. The differentiation being made with them vs the child is what bothers me–it’s okay to sensationalize the adults, but not the child. Yes the child was a product of rape, but the mother was a rape victim too. If there wasn’t this special kid gloves treatment with children that you see a lot, I’d be somewhat less bothered by it.
LRH, I do think children deserve to have more privacy than adults. Though it would be nice if the adult victims could have privacy, at least they can deal with the negative effects of publicity as adults (though I don’t deny it will be hard). Can a young child deal, in a healthy manner, with classmates taunting her for having a rapist for a father? If she *has* to, I’m sure she’ll figure it out sooner or later, but there is no compelling reason for the media or other nosy people to put her in that position.
I think you have a young daughter, of similar age to my daughters (they are 6). I tend to be a little protective of what my daughters hear as well as what others know of their past. For example, my daughter is a very petite girl for whom book learning does not come easy. The other day I received a recommendation for a kids’ newsletter about her birth country. It mentions that malnutrition in her birth country causes kids to be short and to have low IQ. I won’t be getting that newsletter. Others suggest that if it’s the truth, it’s fair game. However, a young girl isn’t ready for every truth out there. She is still developing her self-esteem. Kids need time and space to do this before the world starts pounding them with very harsh realities about themselves.
@LHR – The adults’ photos have been plastered everywhere for the 10 years that they have been missing. Their names have been household names in Cleveland/Ohio for 10 years. Not because of sensationalism but in an attempt to find them. There is nothing to be gained from hiding them now.
But for that, the adults would be protected under a rape shield law and could not be in any way identified in the press without their approval. This young product of rape (we assume anyway) deserves the same treatment in the press that a rape victim would get for all the same reasons.
My grandmother use to “scare” me “straight” with abduction stories from the time I was seven and wanted a taste of freedom. One of them was of a girl who had been missing without a trace in a forest out here in California. After her remains were found years later it turned out she was not abducted by strangers but was attacked by a mountain lion ( and it was thought that mountain lions had gone extinct in that region). She also scared me with the Silence of the Lambs movie saying that was real and why I wasn’t allowed to leave her fenced yard at the age of 15 when I visited her. Turns out the true story behind that wasn’t as sensational- the guy was a graverobber not a murderer. I was told to make a movie about a graverobber would not be as exciting as one about a serial killer.
The suspect(s) are not on the public registry. Megan’s Flaw fails again.
Early reports (and those can be taken with a pillar, not a grain, of salt) say that all three of these young women voluntarily got into the man’s car because he offered them a ride.
So. The lesson we might take away from this? Could it be that at any age, we don’t take a ride in someone’s car unless we know them REALLY well? Or is the lesson that we don’t ever go anywhere alone? I would say the former.
And in the case of one of the girls, he wasn’t even a stranger. Very hard to get my head around that one. There is some speculation that he did some things to his own daughters as well.
One report I read said he basically imprisoned his wife and daughters for periods of time.
How ironic is it that this guy will be used as an example of why all of us should imprison our daughters – in the name of safety.
Rachel Maddow had a really good segment on the odds of being kidnapped when she profiled this case on her show that aired on Tuesday night of this week. Lots of clear-headed, empirical fact.
I didn’t need another reason to love Rachel Maddow, but there you go. Awesome woman.
Keep my daughter under lock and key? No way. Get her self-defense training and teach her to trust her instincts even with the people she knows. Punishing girls by telling them not to go out is just one more example of blaming the victim.