The horrible rape of a 6-year old child at school is haunting all of us parents right now. The fact that the child was special-needs makes it all the more terrible. This strikes closer home because we not only know children who go to that same school, but also makes us wonder about and fear for the safety of our own children.
When you come down to it finally, how much can you protect your child? For the record, I do not think our boys are any safer. In fact, it’s much worse given the way we condition them to thinking crying is girly and showing emotion is not macho. So it’s more likely that any abuse they suffer is suppressed more.
When I went to pick up Lil D from school after her after-school activities, the security was tighter, the guards looked more worried, and were trying to verify multiple times that the children were going back with the right people. Lil D was a little perturbed, and eager to tell me the news that the principal had addressed them and asked them not to go out of the school by themselves, or go with strangers.
Let’s face it, our children are not really safe anywhere. Bad things could happen at school or at home, with strangers or with known people, when alone or with friends. There’s no telling really.
So what I sat Lil D down and told her was this.
Bad things can happen anywhere and everywhere. Just because car accidents happen, we don’t stop driving. We just drive more carefully and are more alert. Similarly, bad people are everywhere, but more importantly, in all of her life, she has met so many good people who were not bad. And that is what she needs to focus on. That she doesn’t have to live in fear because something might happen. Yes, she needs to be alert and take certain precautions like not coming back alone in the school bus or being careful when she is out with her friends. But there’s only so much we can do. We can’t stop living because of all the perceived threats.
She seemed reassured and then went off to play. How much she absorbed is difficult to estimate, but I do hope she retains the essence of my message.
My heart goes out to the little girl, and hats off to the courageous parents who brought this to light. Every parent stands with them today.