Not-so-Stranger Danger

Yesterday, I watched the 20/20 exclusive Robin Roberts interview with 2 of the 3 kidnapping survivors from Cleveland: Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus. (Michelle Knight, not interviewed, was the first woman kidnapped) and I was glued to the screen the entire time. It was a great interview. These women had serious strength and showed great courage despite the circumstances at hand and their survival instincts to stay alive were inspiring.

At the time of their kidnapping,  Gina was just 14, Amanda was almost 17. On Twitter, I saw some feedback with people asking why would the young ladies get into a car with a stranger. Answer to that is, this man was no stranger.

This man preyed on his own children's friends and took advantage of the fact that these girls were familiar with him.

Problem is, this can happen oh so easily. I have a now 11-year old son. And like so many other families, we have a daily routine. The driver of our daily bus ride that we do small talk with, the crossing guard that crosses us, the deli clerk that gives us the morning bagel, the same security officer and parking attendant that we come across EVERY SINGLE DAY could be a predator. That's the real world that we live in. We have everyday people that we'd think can trust. After that interview, we are reminded that nothing is ever totally certain.

As far as I can see, that man was in a position of trust. He was a school bus driver. He was a parent. The lessons about life that we teach our children are hard enough without the horrible monsters on earth that make the world that we've created an even smaller & scarier place.

I wrote a book years ago called, "I Won't go with Strangers", (Amazon and in PDF form) about a girl on her daily routine, confronted with realistic scenarios, with her making the decision to not go with a stranger. I wrote an earlier entry called "Why Losing Leiby Kletzky Hurts so Much" and spoke about a boy that was "safe" in his own community, familiar surroundings and he also wasn't immune to the monsters that lurk and prey on innocent children.

Now with that said, there are no certainties that what happened would or wouldn't happen again because sadly, it happens everyday. But as long as we teach our kids to be aware, use their instincts & intuition and educate them on who monsters can be, whether they are strangers or sit on our couch, we can give them a fighting chance.