Most Australians know the story of Daniel Morcombe who was abducted from a bus stop close to his home just weeks before Christmas 8 years ago. Working in the missing persons field it really resonated with me having seen first hand the stories of loss and despair from families in similar situations.
After the discovery of Daniel's body the news created new conversations about stranger danger, about who we should fear and about what the known risks were in the big wide world. One of the questions that came up in every radio segment I did was whether or not we really need to fear the white van? There has long been a myth that the people waiting to snatch our children are driving in large, non descript white vans waiting for the right opportunity to take what is most precious to us.It hones in on those fear-inducing emotions that when we untie the apron strings and let our children free we open ourselves up to the darkness that hides in the shadows.
I want to try focus less on the statistics of child abduction – the Australian Federal Police state that 'a small percentage of missing children are related to stranger abductions’ whereas 2-3 cases per week of abductions involving a parent occur every week in Australia – and more on the ways to make our children resilient.
I want to explore the the possibility that we might not all be at as much risk as we think. I believe that will force us to focus on the present rather than the ‘what if’ scenarios.
The media has been awash lately with stories of the perceived safety of unknown adults. We have seen, what are commonly described as socially responsible men, being moved away from unaccompanied children on flights and the ongoing debate about how right or wrong this is. I don’t write policy for airlines but I can presume that we focus in on men because it fits with the myth that they can only be perpetrators of heinous crimes.