The sadness all consuming. Confusion. Fear. Anxiety heightened.
At this very moment, I am the saddest I have ever been for a family whom I have never met. Mourning fully a little angel I had never heard of. Do you know whom I speak of? Jessica Ridgeway. This is the Facebook page set up for her efforts.
On October 5, 2012, a 10 year old girl went missing. Jessica Ridgeway. She was on her way to school at 8:30am. Her single mother, who works evenings, came home and helped send her off to school. When she shut the door behind her, her mother could have never known it was the last moment she would have with Jessica.
Jessica Ridgeway was to walk for a short time to a meeting place with friends, then continue on to school. She never made it to that meeting place. Hundreds of volunteers combed everywhere for her in the days following. On October 10, 2012, two men cleaning up an area and not involved in the search found her; the site was apparently, and by all imagination, gruesome. ‘The body’ was reported to be “not intact”. Formal identification was made Friday, October 12, 2012.
Who would dismember a child? A 10 year old girl? Sorry… I am… well, I honestly, have yet to find a word for this. I have felt sick before, sickened by educators and their treatments of our special kiddos, sickened by all those in positions of trust, those who are to care for the most vulnerable, yet monstrous enough to harm these angels…but this… this is different.
I’m left. Consumed by sadness for what she may have felt in her last moments. Despair for her family and all the police, fire and ‘public’ volunteers who did everything they could to find her. However, I’m also consumed by fear for my children. I am a watchful parent. By all reports, more watchful than most… such is the special life. But these fears lead only to untamed anxiety and rampant questions….
What do I do to keep my kids safe? How do I explain? Will they overhear this… kids growing up faster these days than they should. Will another parent have a talk with their kindergartener about Jessica Ridgeway? Will that kindergardener mention something to mine? How do I go beyond “stranger danger” and find what really sticks? How could I possibly, ever… EVER, prepare my children every nuance of every evil that’s out there in the world? It can be hard for adults to “tell” who is good, who is bad; yet, it’s more important to me for my children to be able to “tell”. It doesn’t make any sense, yet it’s imperative that it does.
Today, Saturday October 13, 2012 from 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm, 9News is hosting a #SafeKids Twitter Chat. This chat will cover topics such as: keeping kids safe and how to talk about the case. I will be participating – you can follow me at @Special_Happens, and the entire conversation using the hashtag #SafeKids. Also participating are people from Denver Police Department and Victim Assistance Unit, and Dr. Harley Rotbart from Children’s Hospital. Here are all the other main people in the chat and their twitter handles:
- @9NEWS on Twitter.
- Rajean Blomquist, Public Relations Professional and mother who blogs at B Cause I Said So. Find her on Twitter, @rajean.
- Marie Folmar, Publisher of Macaroni Kid Broomfield and mom of 3. Find her on Twitter, @MKBroomfield.
- Lucretia Pruitt, Mom, and publisher of The Social Joint. Find her on Twitter, @LucretiaPruitt.
- A member of the @DenverPolice Victims Assistance Unit.
- Dr. Harley Rotbart from Children’s Hospital Colorado. Find him on Twitter, @NoRegretsParent and on his website No Regrets Parenting.
If you’re not on twitter or would like more information, you can find it on the 9News Website here.
Can’t make it or prefer to take the time to read and absorb information, well, through research and recommendations, I’ve found a number of resources and readings that I thought might be helpful to me and to you to help us answer these questions within ourselves. New perspectives or suggestions on how we might improve or change our children’s safety lessons. I have given you snippets and links below and I do hope you’ll take a moment to at least skim them.
Honoring Jessica Ridgeway: Talk to Kids about Personal Safety, by Rajean “Children, especially young children, don’t always know how to apply the things they learned in the classroom to a real-life situation (studies related to gun control have shown this). It’s good for parents to role-play with their children. Set up a situation where a fake abductor comes along and see if your child will react the way he or she should. Stop the scenario and ask you child what he should do, and applaud him if he implements the correct behavior. Children learn well in these role-playing situations. Do it a few times to make an impact.” (continue reading….)
Keeping Our Kids Safe, by Macaroni Kid, Broomfield: “I would love to keep my head buried in the sand. I would love to pretend like my children will never learn about the tragedy of what happened to Jessica Ridgeway. Unfortunately, I can’t hide from the truth. Kids on the playground will talk and my kids will learn that there is a little girl who did not make it to school one day and who will not be coming home. As hard at it is, it is my job as their parent to tell them about Jessica and to arm them with tips on how they can keep themselves safe.” (continue reading…)
“Tricky People” are the New Strangers, by Checklist Mommy: “Right after Diddy was born, I was in the car listening to NPR and I heard a child safety educator say, “Stop telling your kids not to talk to strangers. They might need to talk to a stranger one day. Instead, teach them which sorts of strangers are safe. You know who’s safe? A mom with kids. Period. Your kid gets separated from you at the mall? Tell her to flag down the first mom with kids she sees.” (continue reading…)
If you have additional resources, please feel free to list them below in the comments.
Let’s help each other keep our kids safe.