By Jennifer Bioche
The daily heartache over the disappearance of two Black Hawk County girls has been keen and widely felt as we wait with hope for a break in the case, now more than a week old as this page goes to press. My children and I have discussions about what happened, and parents all over Iowa no doubt are having renewed conversations with their children about “stranger danger.”
On Wednesday, The Gazette ran a front-page story that caught my eye, “‘A different summer’ after girls’ disappearance.” It quoted a Waterloo woman: “I think people (here in Iowa and across the U.S.) are going to think twice about letting their kids go out the door and go about their usual summer activities.”
I would implore the public to do otherwise.
Of course a community is rattled with the disappearance of a child. And the people of Evansdale have shown tremendous resolve with search efforts, flier distribution, and getting the word out about finding the two young cousins.
But children still need to get outside and engage in normal life, rather than give into the fear that their kidnapper is just around the corner.
First, we really don’t have serial kidnapping, thank the good Lord, in the United States. Human trafficking is another issue, usually targeting older girls who are out and about, having long outgrown the protective arm of their parents.
Just to be sure, I contacted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Nancy McBride, the Center’s safety director, told me:
“NCMEC is not aware of repeat or serial kidnapping of children. We have conducted an attempted abduction analysis over the last seven years with over 7,000 cases. In the findings we learned: Attempted abductions happen more often when a child is going to and from school or school-related activities, more often involve children between the ages of 10 to 14, happen to more female children than male, and involve a suspect using a vehicle. A common pattern with the children who escaped their would-be abductors is that the child did something proactive (screaming/yelling to draw attention; running/physically pulling away) as opposed to being passive or polite.”
The Center’s website — http://smgs.us/1n0v — has good tips for your children’s safety, including: ensure your children know their contact information, stay away from water unless supervised and never get in a car with a stranger. Such tips empower your child rather than instilling fear. And fear does nothing to help find the missing.
Jennifer Bioche of Marion is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in numerous local and national publications. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org