You worry. You have children-- you worry. You worry that some evil person will come and take your child away and do terrible things to him or her. That's a legitimate worry. Welcome to parenthood.
We want to be good parents but we also want to live in a livable world. So we deal with our fears and support reasonable measures to protect our children and ourselves from evil. And what seems reasonable to us often depends on our perception of how dangerous it really is out there.
A headline in the local papers recently proclaimed, "Missing Kids Case Numbers Soar: Report". A subhead insists that the RCMP statistics show that more children than ever before are missing.
Last year, in this country of 30 million people, about 65,000 children went missing. Does that mean there were 65,000 abductions? No. This is the breakdown:
Parental Abduction: 416
Wandered Off: 597
Okay-- some numbers are missing. How many, of the 65,000, do you think were kidnapped by strangers-- our worst nightmare about the fate of a missing child? More or less than "Wandered off"?
The answer is, 42.
Yes, forty-two. 42. Less than 50. In all of Canada, less than 50 children were abducted by strangers last year.
I suppose you could argue that some of the 10,000 "unknown" must have been kidnapped by strangers. In fact, the 10,000 would probably include proportionate numbers of parental abductions, runaways, and unknowns.
Is the number going up as the headline implies?
No. No. No.
In 1987, there were 93 stranger abductions. The number is going down.
So, while we spend all our time worrying about stranger abductions, and while a lot of people use examples of stranger abductions to justify repressive government measures against pornography and increased prison terms for all crimes, the truth is that we would be much, much better served if we would simply try to be better parents. Our kids are far more likely to run away than they are to be abducted. They are more likely to wander off by themselves than be abducted. They are more likely to die in a car accident than to be abducted.
Even one abduction is too many. But there are a lot of politicians, police, and social critics who advocate unreasonable solutions for a problem that does not exist to the degree they would have you believe it exists.
Copyright © 2001 Bill Van Dyk All rights reserved.