As a parent, it seems as though we are constantly dancing along the fine line between paranoia and not worrying.
Lately I'm trying not to be paranoid about the safety of my children, and more specifically keeping them safe from child predators. I think a lot about this for a few reasons:
1--I live near a big huge city
2--I'm not naive
3--My son is extremely social, and try as I might he just doesn't get the concept of "don't talk to stangers"
4--I recently heard that a four year old girl was abducted and sexually assaulted in the middle of the day at a busy park in aforementioned big city (note to self: Do not go to parks in the middle of Phoenix--EVER) even though her family was there too.
Now, don't get me wrong, this is actually a very uncomfortable topic for me, and there is a huge part of me that wants to pretend it doesn't exist. But for the safety of my children, I educate myself. So, I visited this website to search for registered sex offenders and preformed a search for my zip code.
I was happy to learn that there were only five and they didn't live by my kid's school or church or in our neighborhood. But I was somewhat surprised to see how normal and nice they looked (the profiles include pictures). In fact, it was downright unnerving. I guess I am a little naive, because I expected to see some sick maniacal look in their eyes that would tip me off or something. But almost without exception, each Man (yes they were all men--big shocker) looked like someone I would talk to at the grocery store or smile at and invite my kids to talk to if I didn't know better. It just makes it all the harder not to fall off of my dance into full on paranoia. But I'm trying my darndest to stay on that line.
Two things I just can't let go of are:
--letting Gabe play outside in the front unsupervised (which I feel bad about concerning this one kid who is ALWAYS unsupervised. He is always asking Gabe to play and he lives at the end of the street, and it's just too hard for me to go over there. So I usually make up some excuse, but what I really want to say is "It's nothing personal, I promise! But honestly your parents are MIA and that just isn't okay for my kid."
--sleepovers. I didn't have a problem with these until my daughter came into our family, but now I see it just isn't possible and I couldn't very well let Gabe have them and not Greta. For those of you without daughters, let me tell you my top reasons for not allowing sleepovers:
-I almost always snuck out of the house with my friends to go gallavanting around the neighborhood getting into all kinds of trouble and meeting up with all kinds of other kids.
-you never know what creep has access to your kid while she is at another person's house, or who could break in.
So there you have it. I'm sure there are some of you who are thinking: "Oh come on, we used to have so much fun at sleepovers! Lighten up!" and to you all I say-- wait until you have a daughter and then get back to me (especially after you remember what exactly you did on those sleepovers and how silly you thought your parents were for thinking you could have been raped, and how vulnerable you really were).