Thursday, April 24, 2014

Fighting monsters

2/26/2014

[Editor’s note: The following Reader Forum letter references Hailey Owens, a 10-year-old Springfield, Mo., girl who was abducted and killed last week. Craig Michael Wood, 45, a teaching assistant with a minor criminal record, according to media reports, has been charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and armed criminal action in her death.]

As the days go by since the public was first made aware of the Amber Alert for Hailey Owens, her tragic story is still unfolding in the media; another horrific tale of unimaginable pain and suffering caused by a monster. We tell our kids there are no such things as monsters. Monsters are of the imagination and movies only. We couldn’t be more wrong. There are monsters. They are very real, very dangerous and they walk amongst us. The monsters are openly hunting our children.

[Editor’s note: The following Reader Forum letter references Hailey Owens, a 10-year-old Springfield, Mo., girl who was abducted and killed last week. Craig Michael Wood, 45, a teaching assistant with a minor criminal record, according to media reports, has been charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and armed criminal action in her death.]

As the days go by since the public was first made aware of the Amber Alert for Hailey Owens, her tragic story is still unfolding in the media; another horrific tale of unimaginable pain and suffering caused by a monster. We tell our kids there are no such things as monsters. Monsters are of the imagination and movies only. We couldn’t be more wrong. There are monsters. They are very real, very dangerous and they walk amongst us. The monsters are openly hunting our children.

Since when did it become too dangerous to allow our children to play outside with their friends, ride their bikes around town or even walk to a friend’s house a couple of blocks away? Where did things go so wrong? When was it permitted for open season on our children? Seriously, it had to be some sort of fundamental shift in our society. The love and devotion parents bestow on their kids hasn’t changed since the dawn of man. That leaves society that’s changed, and for the worse. Perhaps we have dehumanized ourselves to the point that the lives of others are inconsequential. It’s horrible to think our kids are being forced to grow up faster and faster because of dangers of life. Childhood was a blur for most of us anyway. Nowadays, it goes from cartoons and toys one minute right into fighting off freaks and perverts in the park the next.

We teach about stranger danger, but apparently that’s not good enough anymore. Just because we live in a smaller community doesn’t mean we can let our guard down, nor can our kids. Most of the crimes against children are perpetrated by people they already know or are familiar with. So much for the stranger danger lessons. However, we cannot just lock them in the house until graduation, but we can give them the knowledge to help keep themselves safe (or at least safer). Education and preparation will go a long way in fighting back the monsters.

Perhaps if we, as a society, were to be as hyper-vigilant against those who pose a threat to our children as we do for international terrorists, there would be far fewer tragic stories in the news. Incarcerate those who violate a child in any form or fashion for extremely long prison sentences with intense psychotherapy included for good measure. I suggest also permanently marking the offenders in some way as a visual warning to others. Maybe something across the forehead? However the problem remains, something must be done on a societal level to stop these monsters from preying upon our children. Also, teach our kids to protect themselves from the monsters without totally destroying their childhood innocence.

Let’s keep Hailey in our prayers, as well as the family who is in the midst of something that is found in evil nightmares. Hailey isn’t alone either. She is preceded by others ... way too many others. Pray that society has the wisdom to change itself for the better. Now go hug your kids.

 

—C.J. Crawley,

Ottawa

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