A disturbing truth
I want to tread carefully around this topic, because it is serious and there are many factors to take into consideration, when offering an opinion, much less passing judgment.
Like everyone who heard about the San Diego kidnapping of a sixteen year old girl this past week, which started with the murder of her mother and brother, I was horrified at what took place and then ultimately relieved to know that she had been rescued on Saturday and appears to be (relatively) unharmed, physically; I assume a medical examination will determine that ultimately and I will hope for the best.
In the meantime, I just want to point out one thing that parents have to think about when trying to protect their children, of either gender, from a horrendous event like this befalling them and that is this:
You absolutely must take responsibility for the people that have free access to your children. I got the impression that the man that committed these terrible acts was not in an adult romantic relationship at the time. There are reports of a family history of similar problems. The murderer/kidnapper also suffered from financial and emotional problems in addition to the deviant impulses that led him to become infatuated with this young girl.
As parents, it is our duty to know as much as we can about the people who come into contact with our children. We have to protect them from strangers, of course and casual contact that may become problematic. But we also have to educate ourselves as to the nature of these incidences and the fact that they are by and large committed by people familiar to us and the children. If this man had a family history of violence, suicide and emotional/sexual disorder, then this child’s parents (for whom I have the utmost sympathy and compassion) should have known it. He was a family friend for over fifteen years. Surely one should think about why he was spending so much time with the victims’ family. It is not healthy or normal for a grown man to spend extensive time with children who are not his own, or part of his immediate family. It should at the very least, be a red flag.
When I first heard this story and saw pictures of the child who was kidnapped, I immediately knew that this man had an inappropriate, aberrant fixation on her. May I also delicately suggest to parents: do not let your children dress in a manner that is not age appropriate. Now please understand what I am suggesting here. It may be typical, and in line with what their peers are doing, but the clothing and makeup I saw in the dozen or so photographs that were shown of this girl over the past few days indicate possible early sexualization, however inadvertently and innocently (or not) it may have begun.
We cannot blame the victim, no matter what her part might have been leading up to the kidnapping, or even her bereaved and devastated, and now deceased in one case, parents and family. The man who was killed by the SWAT team is solely responsible for his behavior, crimes, and death. I have no doubts whatsoever about that and the case should be handled accordingly.
But it would be ignoring a serious problem in modern society if I did not point out that girls (and boys for that matter) are tending to dress in a manner that is out of sync with their age and ability to deal with the consequences that result from the message they are broadcasting with what appear to be provocative outfits, hairstyles and poses.
In the minds of those who are mentally ill, and pedophiles in particular, the object of their obsession or infatuation welcomes their completely inappropriate attentions. There is no age that is out of range for pedophiles, which is horrifying and deeply troubling in and of itself. As long as our justice system keeps releasing these people to reoffend, often with accelerating severity and frequency, the only protection we have is forehand knowledge and proper oversight of our children.
Whenever one of these terrible cases arises, I always think that society will get the message and sadly, many people out of well-intentioned but ignorant trust fail to become better informed about this phenomenon or recognize how to apply it to their own circumstances.
Often with tragic results.