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    Posted April 20, 2012 by
    Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

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    Are We too Frightened for Our Children's Safety?


    definition:  A bogeyman (also spelled bogieman, boogeyman or boogieman) is an amorphous imaginary being used by adults to frighten children into compliant behaviour.


         As police dogs and investigators are tearing up some New York soho basement at this very moment, our thoughts are of Etan Patz, the first poster child for missing kids, who vanished one morning in 1979 when at age 6 he walked the two blocks to his bus stop for the very first time.


    His picture was the very first on milk cartons asking "have you seen this child?" and one must ask how the world suddenly became a place where children were thought to be continually at risk by predators who would steal them at best and brutally murder them at worst.


    We raised two boys in Brooklyn who were born in the early and mid 1980s, and this heightened awareness of kidnappers and pedophiles has no doubt shaped my raising of my children. Not to minimize the dangers out there, but I think we have gone way overboard in our fearful anticipation of monstrous predators who will pounce on our little babies.


    Gone are the days when a boy or girl would go out the door to play at 8am and not return until 6 or 7 on a Saturday. Gone are the days when, as I did, hitchhiking was a wonderful way of getting around town or the east coast. The cell phone has taken the fearfulness to altogether new levels, where a son or daughter may call mom 5 or 10 times in a day to "check in" and unfortunately lose control of their own decision making.


    Look I hope little Etan's remains are finally found and the guilty are brought to justice. I'm grateful for milk cartons that request our vigilance for the lost children of others. But at what cost? I raised my kids to be very, very strong and athletic--to be street wise and quick to read bad situations and to be prepared to defend themselves or flee. I'm very grateful nothing as tragic as the disappearance of Atan has ever happened to me or mine.


    What about you? Do you think we have become overly fearful of some boogie man or is the caution justified? Something to think about. I'm W J O'Reilly

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