Tags: Are | You | Watching | Your | Kids?

Are You Watching Your Kids?

Thursday, 20 April 2006 12:00 AM

It was a hilarious radio interview.

She was the wife of a gynecologist and also his receptionist. She wrote a book detailing, among other things, her emotions when, for example, she would call upon a gorgeous young woman in the waiting room to proceed into her husband's treatment room knowing precisely which articles of her clothing would be thereupon immediately removed. One of the funniest stories in her book dealt with a kind of nerdy young couple from rural Pennsylvania who had been married for a few years without being blessed with children.

After about 20 minutes the couple came out beaming joy in all directons. The doctor, however, emerged ashen and told his receptionist (his wife), "Please get me a cup of coffee and tell the waiting patients there'll be a bit of a delay. I've got to rest up from this." It turned out the young couple didn't have even the vaguest notion of what biological act had to precede the achievement of pregnancy!

I will never laugh or smile at that story again. It reminds me of another ignorance vastly more tragic than not knowing how to conceive.

It reminds me of a suspicion I've nursed for years. I'll get to that shortly. While we argue the decimal points of global temperature rise and the statistical frequency and ferocity of hurricanes, the number of child-abductions and killings has obviously escalated at the "hockey stick" rate shown on the graphs of those warning of global warming.

Conservatives may say it's the moral decay of our culture and the popular singers whose lyrics rhapsodize mutilation and worse. Liberals may say we've always had predators and it's just that the publicity is so much less restricted now. I'm not qualified to rule on that.

All I know is that in the early part of the last century the abduction and thrill-killing of a Chicago child by older boys Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb became an enduring "crime of the century" every bit as prominent as the case of Sacco and Vanzetti.

The thrill-killers were defended by the enfabled Clarence Darrow. Today there seems to be another crime of the century every time you turn on CNN or Fox News.

Look at the number of stolen children who suffer unspeakable tortures and never live to be hugged and reassured by loving parents.

My accusation is that the American public doesn't quite understand that there are predators ranging from the older man gaping at the little targets in the school playground clear over to the apparently normal boy next door whose sexual desires have nothing to do with moonlight, soft music, a gentle white wine, hand-holding, a kiss, a caress, love-making and so on.

Those romantic visions are as far from their desires as Betelguese is from Baltimore.

Their fantasies are specific, laser-direct and volcanic in intensity. They achieve fulfillment only by getting control of and sodomizing a child and and torturing and killing that child with no more concern than a man who exits a house of prostitution after having his fun.

There are things everyone should know.

When a thunderstorm sweeps over a golf course, the golfers act like they know the danger and avoid standing under tall trees. When water contains sharks, bathers act like they know the danger and get out. When electrical circuitry in back of the TV set pops and smokes and sizzles, nobody takes off his gloves and grabs ahold.

Everyone should know about predators. If I'm wrong and everyone does know about the prevalence of predators, then why are there so very many helpless children theirs for the grabbing?

Our small children are set free to roam right into the hands of predators who either offer the traditional candy or invoke the more imaginative lure of, "Will you come help me look for a lost puppy?" Once the car door closes that child is lost forever.

I accuse the American people of literally not knowing this on the same level as we know the dangers of lightning, sharks, electricity, speeding cars, unattended swimming pools, biking and skateboarding without helmets, unsafe caves, you name it.

Those perils are addressed head-on by the same parents who allow their children to wander around the mall, the department store, the woods - even the yard - front and back -- have been places from which children have been abducted.

If you know this, you are hereby separated from the indictment and urged to help alert the rest of the country.

Sure, parents are far from oblivious to these dangers. They know the mantra of "Don't talk to strangers," etc., but they don't seem to know it on a level that protects those children.

I recall an age when parents lived in hope that a talent scout would see their lovely child on the street and offer a movie or a modeling contract.

I just wish more parents lived in a healthy fear that predators are everywhere, they lust after vulnerable children, and they're propelled by a furious fantasy dwarfing that which inspires other crimes.

A thief or robber might behave himself when the watchdog barks.

An embezzler might wait until the inspectors leave the building.

Pedophile-murderers seem to have no way to resist their murderous urges.

Admittedly, I'm from the over-protective, 100 percent-hawk-eye school of parents. If a friend says hello to me on a beach and my attention diverts for three seconds to return his greeting and I don't thereupon spot my child instantly in the water, my blood stops in my vessels like a train jammed in a tunnel until I regain eye contact.

There are too many parents in America today who wish they'd also been over-protective.

After 9/11 we achieved a national admission that we had to change our security ways and do certain things differently. I propose we pretend we've had a kind of 9/11 in abducted and murdered children and that we change our ways accordingly.

It's easy to raise the volume on your TV. Is it possible likewise to raise your awareness that an unwatched child equals a child in a tall treetop during a thunderstorm or a child in a swimming pool with a piranha?

Just how fussy would I ask every parent to be?

If I had a sweeping back yard I'd tie a bandana around the trees that marked the boundaries of my vision to the right and the left from the kitchen window and instruct my child not to go beyond those limits; play where I can see you at all times. The rest of my protective protocols should be apparent from that one.

Many times on the streets of New York I'll see a small child wandering with no apparent adult accompanying. I always stop to try to find the adult; and there's that uncomfortable moment when I fear the approaching adult might see ME as a predator looking to make a grab. Small price to pay. I'm contributing to child safety.

How, now, do we expect overworked single parents to comply with my standard of vigilance?

It's tough, but well worth it. Buddy-systems. Parent-teaming. ("Today I'll cook and clean. You watch. Tomorrow you'll cook and clean. I'll watch.")

My role model is that immigrant (legal!) single mother who was so exhausted over the weekend she needed to get a good nap.

Her five small children needed a good day outdoors in the park. She took a blanket to the park, spread it on the grass, gathered her children around and said, "Children, there's an evil monster in this park who wants to kidnap mothers. The monster is afraid of children. While I take a nap on this blanket, it's important that all of you stay close to me to scare the monster away."

And so they did.


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It was a hilarious radio interview. She was the wife of a gynecologist and also his receptionist. She wrote a book detailing, among other things, her emotions when, for example, she would call upon a gorgeous young woman in the waiting room to proceed into her husband's...
Thursday, 20 April 2006 12:00 AM
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