The Sandusky case and memories of the past have prompted me to skip the silly for today and focus on child predators of perhaps a different kind.
In 1983, the movie “Adam” came out on TV. It was about Adam Walsh’s murder. As you probably know, his father is John Walsh and later became the host of America’s Most Wanted. On July 27, 1981, Adam was in an aisle of Sears playing video games with some boys he didn’t know while his mother shopped for lamps a few aisles over. When she went back for him, they were all gone. It is suspected that he followed the boys out of the store, or perhaps they were asked to leave by the management for being too loud, and was likely abducted at the exterior of the store. His head was found on August 10, 1981 in a nearby creek. They suspected that he had been suffocated and beheaded afterwards so that his body would not be identified.
After that movie came out, I thought about it all the time. I STILL think about it a lot. In 1983, I was 8 years old. Adam and I were about the same age. Sometimes I wonder if I should show the movie to my 7-year-old. I know that it would probably really scare him, but maybe that is what he needs. Maybe he needs to be scared. I think that movie helped me a couple of times in my life. After it came out, I remember hearing more about what to do in situations where you are fearful someone might be trying to “get you”.
The first time I was probably around 9 or so. My cousin lived around the corner from us and I regularly walked to her house to play. A car started driving slowly beside me. If my memory is correct, an Asian woman leaned over and opened the passenger side door and asked me to get inside. I told her no, but she kept asking. After a couple of minutes, I just changed my direction and started running toward home. Because she is a woman, maybe it doesn’t sound so threatening. I always remember, though, that there was a woman in the Jaycee Duggar case. I am not sure if she was in the car when her husband kidnapped Jaycee by hitting her with stun gun or not. My point is that women should be just as feared as men.
The second time, I was about 11 or 12 and was sitting in my dad’s Dodge Ram Charger outside of Academy. To this day, I’m not a big fan of shopping. When I was younger, I definitely wasn’t. I would always ask my parents if I could stay in the car and work on my homework or read or something. My dad said it was okay with him and he quickly went inside. The windows were rolled down in the vehicle. After a little while, I noticed a white “kidnapper” van facing me and parked a few spaces over. There was a man behind the steering wheel looking at me funny and he was talking to two other men who were outside of the car. One of the men started slowly backing toward the driver’s side of my dad’s car. I remember one of them saying, “I always either get too close or too far away.” Something inside me told me to get out of the car and run into the store. I dropped my math book on the floorboard, got out and ran inside.
But one of the men followed me.
As soon as I entered the sporting goods store, my eyes quickly scanned it for my dad, but I couldn’t find him. With tears streaming down my face and saying over and over, “Dad, where are you? Dad, where are you?”, I ran to the back of the store to the shoe section and crouched behind a rack of shoes. I could see the man moving fast and looking around the store for me. It seems like I was crouching there forever trying to will the man away from where I hid with my eyes and panicking for my dad. Finally, I spotted my dad coming out of the dressing room. I bolted for him, wrapped my arms around him and let it all out. Of course, the man was nowhere to be found by then.
This scene plays out in my mind still when I pass an Academy store. I think about it when I tell my husband, “I’ll stay out here and play on my iPhone while you go in Home Depot.” If he was driving, I always move over to the driver’s side and turn the car on so I am prepared to drive off if any weirdo gets near me.
Maybe I am a bit too dramatic and paranoid?
Scary people are out there, though. If I thought you had more time, I would tell you about the time I was followed in my car a few months ago. I will save that story for later. For now, tell me…
Has anything like this ever happened to you? Would you let your child watch the movie “Adam”?
If you are interested in reading more about child abduction statistics and strategies to teach your child in an attempt to avoid them, like running in the other direction yelling “no!”, not wearing clothing with his orher name on it, etc., you can go to this great site on Kid’s Health by clicking here.