I was stalked at the grocery store on Friday. And just like my first boyfriend, first base wasn’t good enough. He followed me by the bananas, through the breakfast foods and finally into the parking lot at the end of my shopping trip. What’s more disturbing is that two of my three children were with me, and he could have cared less that I saw him looking at me as though I was his dinner. Frightening….
Move forward to Saturday and my nine year old daughter was approached by a man commenting on how beautiful her shoes were and how he wished his wife owned a pair of shoes like that. Time for a life lesson, so we talked about it on the way to the car.
“Sweetie, as a girl, you always need to hold your head up and pay attention to your surroundings. Never look down while you are walking to the car or in a public place. Look around you to see who is around you. Yes, that man was giving you a compliment, but he is a stranger so politely say yes and do not carry on with the conversation anymore. Make sure I am around you. Not everyone can be trusted.”
She quietly says, okay, not quite grasping what I am really saying which is…’It is scary as hell to be a female because at any moment you could be taken, raped, or dead,” case in point, the man who was stalking me at the grocery store who ,I felt, if the opportunity would have presented itself correctly,…well you take it from there.
You do the math. Last year in 2013, 316,435 females were filed as missing (http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ncic/ncic-missing-person-and-unidentified-person-statistics-for-2013) and 311, 448 men were filed as missing both over and under the age of 18. In 2013, there were 81 missing people per month that were classified as missing by kidnapping. (http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ncic/ncic-missing-person-and-unidentified-person-statistics-for-2013). Just like that, in a second, it could be you.
And its not just the females, it is anyone, men,children, elderly, young adults, fat, skinny, rich or poor. So let’s look back at your past. Have you put yourself in situations that could result you as a victim of crime? How many compromising things have you done that could have or should have risked your life? I remember partying with 18 year olds at the age of 13 in Ocean City, Maryland….met them three hours before. Or the time, that I felt bad for a homeless man that I befriended in the city, offering him a ride to a local hotel when I was 19. Are you serious?! I would have a heart attack and die if I found out my daughters did that. (only here, a few of my backlog stories that I wish I could forget)
The time is now to start teaching our children and our teenagers about preventing unnecessary decisions in which they compromise their own safety. Time and time again our children , as did we, find ourselves in situations or circumstances that are extremely dangerous by their own means. I willfully walked into those college boys’ beach house and willfully had a few beers at 13 years old with a bulls-eye on my vagina. Thank goodness nothing happened to me, but I would almost guarantee another girl reading this blog may not have been so lucky, and even perhaps me a few years later.
Although, please understand I would never blame a victim of crime as being at fault for trusting another. It is about taking all the precautionary steps possible to help prevent these horrid acts. And even then, these circumstances are not always avoidable. People will take advantage of others if the opportunity arises, and sometimes it happens in the most shocking of ways.
We are taught to carry pepper spray in case a boogie man pops out of our bushes. We are taught not to wear our hair in a ponytail because that makes us females an easier target, and we are told to never get in a car with a stranger. They never told us that a stranger is also the school bus driver that rode us to school every day. Just ask Ariel Castro who kidnapped three teenagers for eleven years hidden away, but whose profession was a school bus driver. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/01/ohio-kidnap-victims-ariel-castro-imprisonment.
So in here, lies the first step, the first proactive initiative in promoting our children’s safety. Just simply telling them to pay attention. Look around and get a feel for what is happening around them. Just by doing this, ten years down the road perhaps they will notice the man who was standing at his car watching where they walk in the parking lot as I saw the man on Friday. Maybe if I hadn’t noticed, it would have been his opportunity to be hiding around the other door awaiting my approach. And secondly, don’t assume that you haven’t opened the door for these horrific possibilities yourself in trusting the good nature of people. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t always go with what you deem as valuable, even if that means a life, a future and your privacy. Teach your children that the most valuable weapon they have is their eyes, always looking, always noticing and making the possible, impossible because their eyes is what can tell a story without every having to say a word.