11 responses to “When Fear Goes Viral: Panic should never replace instinct”

  1. Lori K.

    Yes, yes, yes – love your parting comments (and your post, and your blog). We teach our kids how to judge and navigate so many things, and that should include relative danger. Recently in my community, a strange man pulled up alongside a 5th grade boy biking home from school and said that the boy’s mom sent the man to pick up the boy. And they boy says, “Fine. What’s our family password?” When the man stammered, the boy rode away. He was prepared. He used his instincts and followed a family plan of what to do if…. I applaud his parents for letting him ride his bike home after school and setting a plan of what to do. I applaud the young man for his level headed thinking. It was a good lesson for all of us – not to panic – but to have level-headed conversations with our kids about how to judge a similar situation. Thanks for your blog!

  2. Alida

    I just had to share a recent experience of mine. We are trying to give our children more and more responsibility. The other day my kids and I walked to the grocery store and on the way home my son (9 years old) started walking ahead. It was interesting to me that my daughter kept asking him to wait for us, not to go off by himself. (We had just spent two weeks at grandma’s and she sounded just like my mom.) Finally, I said, he’s old enough to walk home by himself. I mean it was hardly a huge deal, we were about two blocks behind him and he was within eyesight!

    As he reached the busiest corner, he stopped and looked in all directions. Two drivers stopped and motioned him to cross. There was a car poised to turn left (but didn’t have the blinker on) and I guess she thought the cars had stopped for her. She started to turn…I started to panic. I could see he was going to be hit!!! He screamed and ran out of the way. She heard the scream before she ever saw him, but slammed on her brakes anyway. There was all kinds of commotion on the corner as I approached. It dawned on me that even if I had been right there I don’t think I could have prevented it…not that anything happened anyway. So I could be all paranoid and never let him out of my sight or I could do what I did the next day which was to let him ride his bike to the store. When he came home he said, “You know that busy corner? I just waited until there were absolutely no cars coming in ANY direction before I crossed it.” After reading the comment above, we also have a password:)

    1. Elise

      I know this really wouldn’t have prevented your situation because the driver wasn’t signaling but I thought I would share a rule I had when my kids were young. I told them that when an adult signals them to cross a street that they should still take the responsibility to make sure it’s safe and not just believe the adult even if it’s a crossing guard. Somehow I felt safer knowing that my kids were paying attention as well.

  3. CrazyCatLady

    Trusting your instinct is a good thing. I did that when my younger neighbor, with a girl the same age as mine, started letting college age guys and gals hang around at all hours. Right away, when I went over to get my daughter home for dinner, I noticed that the adults were not modulating their content or language based on the fact that there were young kids around (age 8.) So I wouldn’t let my daughter play in the house when guests were there – they had to play outside, or over at my house. I wouldn’t let my daughter do sleep overs. The college guys and gals would show up at any hour, including 3 a.m. and sleep all over the house, including on the floor and in the little girl’s room. I told the mom the only one in the girl’s room at night, should be the mom. But no, I was “sheltering” my daughter. Because I wanted her to keep her childlike ways and not be exposed to content beyond her years. Not, that I blamed the students or the mother, they were age appropriate (but not considerate.)

    We have since moved to another state. Through another friend, a couple days ago, I found out that the little girl next door had been molested by one of those college “friends.” My heart goes out to her, but I am so glad that I trusted my instinct and didn’t bow to the pressure of the other mom to have my daughter over there.

    I know this sounds like I am a helicopter parent. I am not. There are many other friends that my kids have that I would feel fine in saying that if I was dying tomorrow, that they could care for my kids. They are not helicopter either, just age appropriate. My kids can stay the night, even go skinny dipping, and I wouldn’t bat an eyelash. Just, with this mom who used to live next door, it was different. Many people, in and out, lots of people I didn’t know in charge of the little girl when mom was out. It is hard to explain, but, it just didn’t work for me.

    It was MY hunch though, not something based on other people. Some people noted the young people going in and out, and warned me to be careful. Others felt it was all fine. I am glad I went with my hunch. The people we know are more likely to abuse our kids than the ones we don’t know. Like the grandfather watching the soccer game. Zero concern for that from me.

    1. Elise

      I know just how you feel because it sounds so much like something I would do. I am one of the few parents that let my grade school kids go out on their own sometimes but I would be very careful about situations like you described. One of the reasons is that I’ve read that many of these sorts of crimes are committed by people we know and many times even relatives. Also, I find it surprising that now that my kids are teenagers, many of the same parents that were worried about things like stranger danger are buying their kids cars and letting them drive around as groups. I think these two things are much more dangerous. I know of several kids that have been killed in car accidents but not one who was abducted.

  4. Shannon

    Here’s a link to a similar story:

    http://www.askmoxie.org/2012/05/rehearsing-for-bad-situations.html

    In this situation the man actually touched the woman’s daughter. Gavin De Becker’s book “Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane)” gives real data concerning pedophiles, abductions and what you can do as a parent to make your children forewarned without frightening them.

  5. Julia

    I completely agree, though I have an almost two year old, so we haven’t really gotten to the “stranger danger” lesson. (But we’ll be instituting a family password!) However, (and this is a bit of a tangent to teaching instinct) I was reading an article in a parenting magazine about teaching your children how to react if they were lost/separated from you. The article said that if they were lost in a store, they should look for a person wearing a store nametag (good advice), or look for “a lady or a lady with kids.” That last part angered me, because not all “ladies” are nice and while statistically, more pedophiles are men than women, that doesn’t mean that every man is a pedophile/child molester/kidnapper who should be avoided.

  6. Susannah

    And speaking of Things That Are Frightening Children, have you seen this blog (http://storify.com/jennycolgan/terrifying-french-children-s-books) that explores the apparent French penchant for terrifying their little ones through literature?

    Your point about the perspective that is lost when “news” spreads via email – and when so-called news outlets treat such sensationalized stories – is well taken… I’d argue that the infection has spread beyond parenting and into politics, but I guess that’s another blog. :)