BY MINDY HARVEY
I have a question for you.
When did it become a ‘bad thing’, a negative, to be a protective parent?
I get it. Children are more likely to be abused or harmed by someone they know rather than a stranger. Police officers, child abuse experts and even free-range parenting advocates are now continually reminding us that it’s not the ‘man in the white van’ we need to be afraid of. Rather it’s that family friend who is more likely to be abusing our kids.
I’m not about to argue with the statistic or the advice of the experts. But I will say this: Please stop telling me that stranger danger is a myth.
Please stop making out that I’m a paranoid ‘helicopter’ parent because I want to drive or walk with my child to school. Stop making out that I’m over-protective because at seven, I don’t let my daughter walk to the shops alone. Or am wary of sleep-overs at the houses of families I barely know.
And please stop telling me off for sharing any stories on Facebook about suspected child abductions.
You see, last week a friend told me off for something I’d shared earlier in the year on Facebook.
An eight-year-old boy was approached by a stranger (a man) outside a fruit shop in a large shopping centre. The boy’s grandmother was at the counter. The boy was hovering on the edges of the shop when a man approached him and asked if he’d like to come with him to look at some trains.Thankfully the boy ran to his mum. Nothing happened. All good. But when I read the story on Facebook I didn’t think twice about sharing it with my friends who – like me – live in the local area. I have a seven-year-old girl. I shop occasionally at that fruit shop. There’s some weird guy lurking around trying to lure kids away? It was a no-brainer to me to share the story. Forewarned is forearmed, in my opinion and as a parents these are the stories I want to be across.
What I wasn’t expecting to happen next was a smack down from another mum.
“What were you sharing that story for? These ‘bogey-man’ stories aren’t helping anyone. All they do is scare us all into thinking it’s not safe for our kids to go outside.”