Saturday, April 23, 2011

A warning in time

Man, you talk about things that you thought had been rightly relegated to the dustbin, things like polio outbreaks, pay phones and film cameras...and along comes this news item from the local PATCH:

Baltimore County police are searching for a man who exposed himself to two Carney Elementary School students Tuesday morning.
According to Cathy Batton, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore County Police Department, the students were walking to school in the 3400 block of Upton Road when a man stopped his vehicle and offered them a ride to school.
The students, both 9, accepted the ride and got into the back seat; the man drove them to the dead end of Upton Road where a path leads to the school, but before they exited the vehicle, the man unzipped his pants and exposed himself to the students.
Police continue to search for the suspect, whom they identify as a light-skinned black man in his 40s with dental braces. The vehicle is faded red, possibly an SUV or a minivan.
The students safely made it to school, but did not report the incident until a few hours later.
"We're urging parents to talk to their kids—tell them not to talk to strangers, not to get into vehicles. I know I talked to mine last night," Batton said. "We're also asking parents to remind their children to report incidents like this immediately so that officers have a chance to respond while the suspect may still be in the area."

This is serious business, but I thought there was not a child in town who had not been told not to speak to strangers, let alone get in a car with one.  You never see people hitch-hiking any more, and that was a preferred mode of travel when I was a teen.  I'd stand with a winsome look, thumb extended on a busy corner, and wait for someone to pull his/her dinosaur (or later, covered wagon) over and let me have a ride to some important destination or bowling alley.  But those were simpler times, and people felt safer. 

Carney School
I guess maybe that's it - young parents today grew up in that post-hitching world, and maybe they don't even think about how necessary it is to give their kids a good talking-to on this topic.  In that case, we got lucky, and these kids made it out of the situation safely.  This is the elementary school closest to our house, and so I feel this story more deeply. This is a chance for all parents to talk to the kids - even if they're sure the kids know not to do this - and tell them again not to do this.

It's better to say it one time too many than one time too few.

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