Yesterday, I interviewed Christie Barnes, the author of Paranoid Parents Guide. As I was speaking with Christie for “Parenting Within Reason”, a student as my daughter’s school, Sierra Holley, was in the process of being abducted. Sierra’s estranged mother waltzed right into the school, made a bee line for Sierra’s classroom, and spun a quick lie to the teacher before kidnapping her daughter. Unbelievable!
It’s a sad irony that I would be talking about issues such as abduction and school safety with an expert on parental fears while a girl was being kidnapped at my own daughter’s school. And yet, this incident is entirely consistent with the information provided by Christie Barnes in her Paranoid Parents Guide book. In 2002, statistics reported by The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children showed that there were 203,900 children who were kidnapped by their own family. In that same year, the number of kids who were kidnapped by strangers was 115. None of this condones the mother for taking her child without custody, and of course, the rare events of stranger kidnappings are indeed serious and heartbreaking. But, it’s important to put things in perspective when we worry about strangers scooping up children everywhere. Kidnappings are extremely rare occurrences, and most are done by family members who don’t have custody.
You might also remember that I ranted about our school’s lock down procedures, and how useless they are. Guess what? I was right. If somebody wants to walk in a school and go on a shooting spree or abduct a child, they will find a way to do it. The fact is that securing the perimeter did not help. The teachers need to be the last line of defense for this sort of incident. I’m pretty pissed off that this teacher just allowed her student to be taken away by an unauthorized person, but maybe there’s more to the story that I’m missing. I’m also sure that this teacher must feel absolutely awful for what happened, and that she’ll be reprimanded appropriately.
One safety feature my school did employ during this incident was a security camera that was able to catch the mother in the act of abducting Sierra. I truly hope this girl will be returned unharmed as soon as possible.
Now there’s a waiting game to see whether my daughter’s school over-reacts to this incident. It depends on the pressure that parents put on the administration, but I’m guessing that there will be an overcompensation of security policy. Note to my daughter’s school… just train your faculty to never let children leave with random unauthorized people. Really, this is not hard.