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9:40 a.m. - January 26, 2007
I Wish I Didn't Have To Write About This...
The last few days I’ve gotten a jolt as to the reality of life here in the 21st century, even in bucolic BFE land.

Katie’s Montessori school is held in the basement of our church, and there’s a former elementary school that is now used for the Even Start program here in town practically next door. There’s a nice playground with age-appropriate items and so on days with decent weather (no rain or snow) the kids go out and play for a while during their school day.

Between the church and the playground, there is an alley that connects two streets that, while not busy, really, in the NYC scheme of things, do handle traffic now and then. And because of the crazy ways the north – south streets on this side of town start and stop, people sometimes use the alleys to get where they need to go between these streets.

So one day when the Montessori kids were in the playground, this car rumbles down the alley. It stops, and the driver calls a little girl (not Katie) over there. He said she was pretty and was wearing pretty clothes, and asked if she wanted some candy. At that moment, a teacher spotted what was going on and started to run toward the car, and it sped off.

The head of the school called all of the parents, called the pastor at church, and also told the Even Start people what happened. She also called the police.

Yesterday, there was a visit from a policeman to the Montessori school to talk to the kids about ‘stranger danger’.

I remember hearing that when I was a kid – that you shouldn’t take candy from strangers or try to find a stranger’s puppy or kitten. But I was a naïve one, and I thought that the stranger would try to kidnap me and hold me for ransom and take all of my parents’ money.

Now, living in a world of Amber Alerts, Megan’s Law, Sex Offender Registrys, Law & Order : SVU, and other notorious cases, I really was naïve.

When we lived in Zionsville, there was a house three doors down that was being rented out, which technically was against the covenants but we thought it was better to have it occupied than just sitting there. It turns out that the husband was on the sex offender registry for indecent exposure. Now sometimes, I think those registries go a bit too far, because if someone is caught peeing on a building after getting their drunk on they could get popped for indecent exposure.

And, even though child abuse and molestation, and rape, and sexual assault are all vile crimes, I don’t think branding people with a Scarlet “D” for deviant is always the best thing for the person and society IF the person is trying to rehabilitate. Vigilante justice can be worse than no justice at all. But used wisely, the registries can be a useful tool for parents and law enforcement.

I just checked and our registry shows 27 entries for our town. Wow. Most of them are for “sexual misconduct with a minor”, and several of them are in their 20s, so I guess I know what the deal was there. But there was also someone who was 24 and had a ‘lifetime’ registration requirement, and there were three women among the 27.

Fortunately, no one is really close by, and they mostly live in neighborhoods that I would avoid anyway.

However, it was rather chilling that in our peaceful neighborhood in Zionsville someone just down the street was caught for indecent exposure. Well, that’s not so bad, but it was indecent exposure to a teenage girl. Ew.

Parents were invited to attend the session at the school, so Liz and Kristin went as well.

The information was very easy for the children to understand, but gave them all of the basics on what to do when someone approaches you. In fact, Katie demonstrated to me at dinner how loud you were supposed to yell, and my ears are still ringing.

I think Katie understands. She was asking questions about if she could hit, kick, or punch them, and we said no, just yell and run to a parent or a teacher.

“But they could hurt you.”
Liz said, “Katie, Mommy and Daddy are stronger than they are, and they won’t hurt us. You just run to us and we’ll protect you.”
“Yea! Mommy and Daddy are stronger than strangers!”

I’m really glad she has this information. It’s scary to think that someone tried to pull something (allegedly) while Katie was out playing. It’s also scary that at 5, she needs to know this information.

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On a much brighter note, the wonderful ScottValkyrie has provided us with very warm knitted slippers. Katie loves hers so much she sleeps in them! Yay! Thanks again!

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On an even better note, tomorrow (Saturday) is the 14th anniversary of my first date with Liz. How are we going to celebrate, you ask? By not being in the same room together from 6:30 AM on! She is going to a writer’s conference in Indianapolis, and then at 2:30 I have to drive to the airport to fly to Philadelphia as I’m giving a talk at a conference on Sunday.

So I guess it will be “Happy Anniversary, baby! Got you on my miiiiiiind!”

 

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