How Concerned Should We Be About Predators Around Our Children?

This summer was really amazing and I had a wonderful time with my children. I used every opportunity to enjoy the beautiful weather with them outdoors. One of our favorite places to go is the neighborhood park where the boys can frolic under the sprinklers and basically run around and tire themselves out.

I am definitely one of those “watch them like a hawk” mothers whenever we are out in public places. My boys know that they have to stay where I can see them and must immediately respond when I call them over to me. My friend, on the other hand, lets her children roam freely throughout the park even if it is outside of her line of vision. She claims that I hover over my children too much and that I have to give them more freedom. Now, I’m not entirely sure how much freedom you can actually give a six year old and a three year old but I always try to keep an open mind when it comes to discussing my children.

You can call me paranoid but I worry about strangers and sexual predators preying on my children, or any children for that matter, in public places. Maybe this is because I am a teacher and, therefore, I am privy to a lot of the horrible things that happen to children at the hands of loved ones and strangers. I cannot even begin to tell you what a large percentage of my students throughout the years have been molested to some degree. It is an epidemic that is not often talked about but that occurs more often than you would think.

A lot of my students that have been preyed upon by sexual predators suffered at the hands of familiar people who had close ties to the family. Sometimes it is a family friend or a distant relative that commits this heinous act. I would even venture to say that more children are victimized and exploited by people they know than by strangers. This is extremely scary and shocking.

My logic is that if so many children are being abused by people who are supposed to care about them, what’s to keep complete strangers to prey on children in places where children frequent such as the park. Believe me, there are a lot of people out there who like to hurt children and you cannot always identify them simply by looking at them. Predators deliberately make themselves blend in wherever they go so as not to draw unwanted attention to themselves. This affords them the opportunity to work and live in places where they are among and around children on a daily basis.

I don’t think that we should become so obsessive that we smother our children with our fears and concerns. However, we do have to make ourselves aware of potential dangers as parents of children in today’s society. It is our responsibility, as parents, to supervise, care for, and to protect our children. My children have enough space to play with their friends when we are outside or at the park but I am never too far from them and I always keep my eye on both of them.

My friend and I will always disagree about this subject when it comes to our parenting styles. She will continue to let her children roam free despite the fact that she has already had a few scares where she could not locate one of her children for a few minutes. A few minutes in the life of a mother searching for her lost child can be an eternity. I suppose that theory that her children will never leave the confines of the park was truly tested when her son wandered outside the park gate to go to the ice cream truck. I, myself, am not willing to put myself through that kind of fear. Who’s to say whether the next time she can’t locate her child it’s because he has wandered off with a stranger. It’s a possibility that we don’t even want to discuss but children are taken from their parents every single day all around the world.

If being vigilant and worrying about the welfare of my children makes me a smothering mother, then I’ll be that. I’m not here to appease others and I am definitely not here to make excuses or give explanations about my parenting style. Any criticism is definitely worth it, in retrospect, as I tuck my boys in every night armed with the knowledge that, as their mother, I will do anything in my power to protect them from the harsh realities of life. I know I will never be able to protect them from everything but I can certainly do my very best to keep them safe. Our children deserve that, at the very least, from the moment of conception, to be safe and loved. I for one will continue to supervise my children and be aware of adults/predators around them in public places because I trust noone when it comes to the loves of my life…

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