The entire sex offender registry—indeed, the entire sex offender industry—is built around the concept of “stranger danger,” the idea that children are at high risk of sexual assault from people they do not know, strangers, people who have already sexually offended and are out there just waiting to grab a random kid and do it again. Nothing will produce spasms of eye-rolling and unintelligible
The greatest part of the American citizenry supports the public sex offender registry. And yet when anyone says that those most likely to sexually abuse a child are those the child knows, those who aren’t on the registry but rather are close to the child in his everyday life, often family members, everyone within hearing distance nods his or her head in agreement. They do know this. It has been written in article after article, talked about ad nauseam by television talk show hosts and pop psychologists, and verified by any personal knowledge they have on the subject. Yet still they support the public sex offender registry.
Three members of a family and their accomplice are in jail because of stranger danger. They apparently had not read the articles or seen the talk shows, and when the mother of a six-year-old child in Missouri felt her son was too friendly and nice to strangers, to people he didn’t know, thus increasing his risk of becoming a victim, the boy’s grandmother and aunt agreed. So they did what any loving family would do; they decided to teach him a lesson.
They enlisted the help of a co-worker of the boy’s aunt who was ready and willing to play the part of Mr. Stranger Danger himself, and his performance was truly Oscar-worthy. He lured the little boy into his pickup as he got off the school bus. There the stranger from Hell proceeded to tie his hands and feet together; he told the terrified child he would not see his mother again; he threatened him with being “nailed to a wall.” He threatened him by waving a gun at him and covered his face with his jacket so that he could not see.
In this condition—bound, vision obscured, terrified and sobbing—he was carried into the basement of his own home. There he had his pants removed and was told he would become a sex slave. This surely begs the question of what a six-year-old child knows about being a sex slave. After four hours in captivity and terror, he was released and told to go upstairs to his mother. There he was lectured by his family about—you got it—stranger danger. This kid would have been safer with almost any stranger I could drag in off the street than he was with his family members.
At school the next day, he disclosed his ordeal to school authorities. The four adults were arrested, and the little six year old victim of the unfathomable ignorance and cruelty of the people who should have protected him from ignorance and cruelty was placed in protective custody and is by now most likely with a foster family.
What will happen to this family and to this child is anybody’s guess; all we can do is keep the child in our thoughts and prayers.
And, lest the irony has escaped anyone, this case proves that, in spite of the myths that persist about bogeymen hiding in the bushes, strangers that will pounce without notice, once again the true bogeymen, the ones so much more likely to bring fear and pain and horror to children, are those close to them in their everyday lives.