The other day there was an attempted abduction reported in Glen Ellyn. A young girl was approached by a man in a van who tried to lure her into his vehicle. Luckily, the girl refused and the man drove away. This is actually the second incident that I know of in Glen Ellyn in the recent past. Last summer, 2 men tried to get a boy into their van at a park. Again, the boy refused and the men drove away. There seems to be no shortage of depraved individuals in the world today just looking for the right opportunity to snatch someone, no matter how "safe" a town or area may seem. Right now, my son is only 3, so he doesn't really play outside by himself. We recently moved into a new house, and our neighborhood is your typical suburban mecca where kids run, bike, and play without a care in the world. I'm sure my son will be wanting to join in when he gets a little bigger. But how safe are we, really?
When I was growing up, my siblings and I had free reign over the neighborhood. We walked everywhere, rode our bikes after dark, played "night games" with the neighbor kids, went to the pool unsupervised, and generally lived a happy go lucky existence without a lot of supervision. When I was in second grade my mom started letting me walk to town with a friend. Through all of my grade school years I walked or biked to our downtown area to shop, buy candy, and go to festivals. I'm not so sure I would let my son do some of the things I did.
I can recall 2 situations that give me that bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. One summer day I was playing in the driveway at my neighbor's house. I was really little, maybe 4 or 5. There were probably 7 or 8 of us playing, unsupervised. A van pulled up with 2 guys in it. I remember one guy leaning out the window and telling us they had puppies in the back and that we could hop in and see. All of us kids were completely silent. We knew exactly what was going on and to tell these guys to get lost, which somebody did. I remember being completely freaked out. None of us ever told our parents that I know of, and we never talked about it. When I think about it now, I am so thankful that nothing bad happened. Another time, when I was in 5th grade, a friend and I were at a summer festival taking place in our town. An older guy in sunglasses followed us around for quite a while. I noticed that everywhere we went, this guy would be there too. Eventually we lost him. We never told our parents or talked about it after that. Of course, we lived in suburban utopia, so all of our parents must have thought nothing bad could ever happen. I have to say I am a much more jaded, safety conscious parent than my parents were. I guess I have seen and read about too many terrible things. I would like to ask our readers this: How much freedom do you give your kids? How old are they? What are your safety concerns? How do you let them have some independence while keeping them safe?
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