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October 11, 2012 12:22 pm

EDITORIAL: Child abduction reminds us to teach children to stay safe

Written by Ilene Olson

Parents and grandparents throughout Park County and the surrounding area waited for news with their hearts in their throats Monday evening after an Amber Alert was issued about a missing 11-year-old Cody girl.

The girl had been abducted from the Park County Library in Cody by a stranger. She was lured to his vehicle by his classic request to help him find a “lost puppy.”

Messages of support, stress and alarm flooded Facebook, Twitter, texts and phone conversations as the community collectively held its breath, waiting for news about the girl’s welfare.

It wasn’t until she was found alive that locals could begin to relax a little. It was distressing to know, however, that her abductor still was at large as of Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Facebook and other messages turned to warning children about “stranger danger.” This week, parents across Park County are talking to their children about never getting in a car with a stranger.

It’s a hard lesson prompted by a tragic true-life example — and it’s one we all wish were not necessary to teach. We enjoy life in our small Wyoming towns, and we resent it when our collective sense of security is yanked out from beneath us by such evil intent and actions.

Neither the girl, nor her parents, are to blame for her abduction.  The blame lies solely on her abductor.

We are painfully aware that the path to emotional healing for this young girl will be a long and challenging one. Our hearts go out to her and her family, and we ask those who know them to continue to provide caring, non-invasive support over the coming weeks and months.

We also are aware that in many cases, “danger” of this type comes not from strangers, but from people our children already know. Lessons to children about personal safety should not be limited to avoiding strangers, but also should include reporting abuse, inappropriate touches, or other behavior that hurts them or makes them uncomfortable, to an adult they trust. That adult then is responsible to see that the child gets the help he or she needs.

A letter to the editor on this page asks people to consider volunteering their time or donating money to help abused children through CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocates. This week’s events provide an unfortunate, but dramatic, illustration of that need.

1 Comment

  • Comment Link October 15, 2012 2:45 pm posted by Eva

    Not since the murder of Christin Lamb has Park County been so shaken by the sick deeds done to one of our youth. Our children only have us to protect them so let's warn them about the dangers, ask questions, listen, and be on guard for any signs of abuse or changes in behavior by these little ones. They are a precious gift from God and we are their protectors against the devil's puppets.

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