Ten-year-old Jessica Ridgeway of Westminster, Colorado went missing Friday on her way to school. (jessica-ridgeway-missing) Every school day she walked three blocks to meet with friends and walk together, but Friday she didn’t show up. The school called to check on her, but her mother, who worked nights, was asleep and didn’t answer. Eight hours went by before an Amber Alert was sent out. On Saturday, 800 volunteers started searching the area. Yesterday her backpack and water bottle were found…
Beneath almost every online article there are comments. Jessica’s story did not have as many as those for movie stars, fashion, sports, or politics, but most of them were empathetic and thoughtful. However, here is one by a disrespectful jerk named Austin:
Yesu, ghosts? Really? I can’t believe that all of you think that crime and perverts and all this #$%# is worse today than it was before. Look at it ten years ago statistically and you will clearly see that all crime is lower. It seems most of you have “old man” syndrome..back in my day.. blah blah blah
My response: A young girl is missing, Austin!!! Statistics don’t mean crap! Your apathetic attitude reflects poorly on your parents and grandparents, but that probably doesn’t matter to you.
There should never be complacency, let alone apathy, about children being kidnapped, murdered, raped, abused, molested, abandoned, or neglected. NEVER! But it happens, doesn’t it? People might be saddened and outraged when they hear about crimes against children, but they cannot help being glad it hasn’t happened to someone they know.
The public expects the police and juries to do their duty by finding and putting behind bars the most perverse of criminals. We gratefully let others take care of this immense problem, situation, and sin, but by doing so, because we are so wrapped up in our own lives, we are remiss in our duty to every child. Every time we allow a parent to keep shouting at or shaking their child in public, we are remiss. Every time we do not intervene because we don’t want to intrude on another family’s privacy, we are remiss.
I am guilty of being remiss in the past and am greatly ashamed for not:
*Knocking on the door of a room at a bed-and-breakfast from which was coming sounds of spankings and cries of a child. As the night manager, I checked in a pastor, his pregnant wife, and a pretty four-year-old girl. The next afternoon, the child upset the man, who was not her birth father, by spilling something in the lobby, which was no big deal. However, a few minutes later, the owner of the B&B, the maid, and I heard the girl being punished and we did nothing. We talked about interrupting and talked about calling 9-1-1, but we did neither. The mother was in the room and allowed the man to abuse her daughter. She must have feared him and that was certainly understandable in her condition, but still – we/I should have done something.
*Confronting a too-busy woman. A few years ago, I saw a crying child trailing after her mother in a Walmart. It was after 5:00pm and the woman had obviously retrieved her daughter from day care and was doing some dinner shopping. The little girl wanted to be held, but the mother kept pushing the cart and ignoring her. Although I saw this several aisles away, I could have followed and confronted the woman. I could have stood up for the child, who was probably tired and just wanted her mother’s attention, but instead I did nothing and only felt sad for the poor child.
Unfortunately, my inactions are not unique; they happen everywhere everyday. Too many people tune themselves out to uncomfortable circumstances around them to the point of being purposefully unobservant and intentionally not getting involved. Perhaps that is why terrible things continue to happen to children: because the monsters know no one is watching, except them.