Last week, the parents of a six-year old girl learned that Child Protective Services might take their little girl from them. Their crime? They allowed her to walk a couple of blocks to the post office alone.
She doesn’t live in a busy city. She had to cross one road, a “T” intersection with a stop sign and traffic light. It was a very common walk for her, but her parents rehearsed her doing it independently as well. She had a cell phone on her just in case. And now, she might be removed completely from her family.
I feel terribly sad when I hear these stories. For one, I’ve been interrogated by CPS after a doctor irresposibly jumped to conclusions because my daughter is brain damaged. But, I also feel for the members of the public. As in the case of this six-year old girl, the ones who felt they had no choice but to involve the police, rather than believe the parents. It must feel awful when you can not remove yourself from suspicions, even after a reasonable explanation is given.
I’m geniunely unnerved by this state of fearfulness. Fear of your child being snatched from your peaceful suburban town. Fear of CPS knocking down your door if you allow them to explore safely. Fear of your child being kidnapped from your locked car when you run inside to grab your forgotten purse off the counter.
The statistics about child abduction may surprise you. Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children says, “More missing children come home today than at any time in our nation’s history. And the total number of missing children has been on the decline over the past 10 years.”