Recently I watched a video clip of the hit HLN show Nancy Grace in which Ms. Grace discussed a case where a baby sitter is accused of allegedly bragging about sexually assaulting a child in text messages to her boyfriend. Ms. Grace leads into the story by informing viewers that the babysitter holds a Master’s degree and works at a high priced oil company. She further shares that the boyfriend also has a Master’s Degree and makes a five figure salary at the same oil company. I didn’t understand the relevance of sharing this background information about the couple. Why is it so shocking that two seemingly intelligent people who are gainfully employed could be accused of sexually assaulting a child? This story made me wonder, as parents, how do we determine what is safe for our children?
I am a worrier by nature and my previous experience working in the foster care system made me hypersensitive to the many dangers children can experience. This certainly influenced my perception of what is safe and unsafe.
When my husband and I were house hunting, one of the criteria’s we had was that our home be located in a “good neighborhood.” In my mind, I thought if we lived in a good neighborhood, my children would be safe. I convinced myself that if the neighborhood was good, I wouldn’t have to worry about them playing outside. I could have peace of mind that they wouldn’t get snatched up off the sidewalk or get run over by a reckless driver while out riding their bikes. Looking back, I see how naïve my logic was. “Good neighborhoods” are not immune to experiencing tragedy. Let’s face it, accidents and crime happen everywhere. Maybe not as much as places that are considered to be at higher risk, but it happens nonetheless.
Prior to the Sandy Hook school shooting, I believed my school aged children were safe at school. I thought all I needed to do was watch and make sure my children entered the school building when I dropped them off in the morning. After all, school shootings happened at high schools. No one is sick enough to terrorize and kill small children right? Wrong. As if worrying about the possibility of a copycat Sandy Hook scenario wasn’t bad enough, now I have to contend with what appears to be a rise in bullying behavior at the elementary school level. I never thought I would have to worry about my daughter developing body image issues until high school or that cyberbullying would be a concern as early as sixth grade!
We all have our own belief system about what we consider to be safe. However, are our beliefs accurate or are we lulling ourselves into a false sense of security? We can’t know everything there is to know about the people we allow our children to interact with. We hope that when we leave them in someone else’s care that they are safe. But there is no real way to know for sure.
Now I’m certainly not suggesting that we should cling to our children in hopes of preventing them from dangers that may or may not be lurking around the corner. Living a life controlled by fear is no way to live. However, I believe we might benefit from questioning why we believe certain situations and people are safe. We shouldn’t be shocked when we hear that an alleged child molester is educated. Holding a degree doesn’t mean someone is of great moral character. It simply means they were able to complete the requirements at the educational institution they attended. Bad people come from all walks of life. It doesn’t matter their race, socio-economic status, or level of education.
I’m curious, how do you know you are keeping our children safe?
Photo credit: Ryan McGuire