I got a little queasy after picking up our mail this evening. There was a notice from the Dept. of Public Safety warning us there is a high risk sex offender now residing in our neighborhood. Gulp. In our town of 26,000+ (population 2008) there are 90 registered sex offenders and now one resides pretty close to home. He did 8 years time for sexually assaulting a 9 year old. Makes a mama sick. We have a picture, full description and even his address (he is all the way on the other side of our rather large neighborhood community).
I'm not naive though, even before this notification I knew we didn't live in this perfect little bubble where there was no crime, no bad people hurting innocent children. It's just saddening there are those people out there that do these horrible things.
When I picked up the mail and looked at the notification in the car I said out loud, "Oh great (sigh)". Right away Madeline asked, "what mommy?". So we had yet another stranger danger talk. She asked who the man in the picture was. I was honest with her. I told her there are people out there that want to hurt children, it may be because they are sick, or they seek revenge because they were hurt by someone, and they have hatred in their hearts. She understood and acknowledged that lots of kids get hurt but that doesn't mean they should hurt someone to feel better. I told her the man in the picture was punished with jail time similar to how when her or James do something bad and wrong they get punished. But I also reminded her how in the past she's promised not to do the bad thing again, but then fails and does the bad or wrong thing again - well this man made a promise after his punishment not to hurt a child again, but he may go back on his word. She understood that.
So I gave her some scenarios if she were to see or be approached by this man or any other stranger here in our neighborhood at the park, or pool or out in our culdesac. She understood exactly what she needed to do. She also said she didn't want James to get hurt so I told her she needs to show James what to do if we are not right there. I was torn a little when having this conversation - I didn't want her to worry but I also didn't want her to forget on what she should do in these types of situations.
I thought I'd list on this blog post what to teach your preschoolers - 3rd graders.
Start with a simple explanation, “there are really bad people who want to hurt children, therefore it’s very, very important that you never…”
•Talk to strangers
•Open the door when someone is knocking or ringing the bell
•Leave mom’s side at the store or when we are somewhere outdoors.
•Go outside without me or a trusted adult.
•Go with a stranger who can’t find his dog, wants to give you candy, wants to show you something, wants to give you money, etc.
•Approach a strange car, even if they know mom’s name or your name.
I still need to discuss with them screaming and tactics to fight and get away from a stranger. Also "safe people" they can go to for help. I'm also going to use McGruff's website to help them learn these very important rules.
I told Madeline (by the way James was napping in the car while we were having this conversation) that we need to pray for this man and for others like him that they will come to know God's love and never hurt another person again. Then I said a little prayer myself to God about the worry and anxiety these issues give me as a parent.
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."