One night when my son asked me what happened to a little boy who went missing from a town not too far from where we live, I could tell he knew something wasn’t right. We’d kept seeing the story of the missing boy on billboards and all over the news again and again.
It was when my son told me that he’d heard that ‘bad guys’ had taken him and they were doing bad things to him that I knew I had to do something.
I’d never been in this predicament before and I really wasn’t sure how to handle this situation correctly. I also didn’t know what was the right age to tell my child about this sort of thing and my son seemed too innocent to tell him the truth. So instead, I chose to tell him a fictional tale about what happened.
I told him that one night, the little boy (Joey) snuck out of bed and went out on an incredible adventure. For this adventure, he caught the last train out of town where he went into a deep dark forest with a big angry dinosaur.
Joey found the space ship he was looking for and although he was sad for the people he left behind, he also didn’t want anyone to be sad for him as this was his plan and he was going to go to a better place.
After my son fell asleep, I realised this fictional story was only to help me.
Like any parent, I wanted to help preserve his innocence and it was becoming clear, wherever Joey may be, he just wasn’t coming home. Abduction and predators should never be part of a child’s world.
But of all the things I fear the most, it’s the thought of having anything like this happening to my children.
I realised how irresponsible I was to make up this story. A story about dinosaurs and a rock that turned into a space ship wasn’t going to save my son’s life. I felt obligated to find out more about how I could prevent this from happening to my own children and to others.
So after a conversation with my wife and few mates from the film industry, we thought the best way to bring attention to the issue was to use the medium I already have at my disposal and make a short film.
With endorsement from the Australian Federal Police, we developed the website and the film which we hoped would be provocative enough to encourage discussion about what is an uncomfortable subject. At the same time we hoped it would also empower both children and carers through education and the very tangible benefits of the tools of the ‘safety helpers’ network and the password system.
The main aim of the www.gone.film is to provide all parents with instructions on how to increase the safety of their young children.
The film is designed to provoke and engage parents by promoting the website, where they can discover basic but effective strategies to help guard against abduction and abuse.
How the password system works:
- Choose a password you and your child can easily remember.
- Any time you arrange someone to collect your child remember to tell them the password.
- At pickup, your child will challenge the collector for the password.
- If the password is correct, your child knows they are safe to go (and will probably be chuffed with the system).
Tell your child never to go with someone who doesn’t know the secret password, even if they are acquainted with that person.
To learn more, go to the website.
* Names have been changed to protect family privacy.