Tuesday, December 06, 2011


The media is filled with implicit praise today as yet another school child proudly reports escaping the clutches of yet another slavering predator.

I'm sorry to be the one to ask the question - did this event actually occur?

This is the latest in a long line of child abduction alerts on the Gold Coast over the past few months, not uncoincidentally occurring in the aftermath of the discovery of the remains of Daniel Morcombe and the subsequent arrest of a suspect in his abduction and killing.

There is no doubt that the Daniel Morcombe case is true and tragic and his parents' attempts to bring something positive from the event through a child safety foundation in their son's name is very commendable indeed.

However I believe there is a link in the recent rise in reporting incidents and the statewide school tour by the Morcombes.

Children, as we know, are susceptible to suggestion. They are also keen to impress their peers and their adults and will either embellish stories or make them up from whole cloth which is why it is important to deal with lying at a very young age.

Could it be that the reports of attempted abductions could very well be a form of mass hysteria unwittingly encouraged by parents and the media?

I don't believe these children are lying for any malicious reason, I believe that at heart they want to demonstrate to their teachers and parents that they understand the 'stranger danger' message and what better way to do that than by giving the adults from whom they want approval, a real life scenario that demonstrates the their ability to look after themselves?

This is why educators who encounter claims of sexual abuse are counselled by psychologists to be very careful in evaluating those claims and give clues to look out for.

Also of concern is that an innocent enquiry by an adult to a child for directions, for example, can result in a witch hunt that ruins the lives and reputations of innocent people as in this example:

One incident in Livonia involved a tow-truck driver who assaulted a man he had seen asking two boys on the street for directions. He turned out to be a tire salesman on a business trip from Akron, Ohio, who had gotten lost with no knowledge of the slayings.
The fact of the matter is, children are more likely to be abused by people they know - whether they be someone online who has cultivated a relationship with your child, a teacher, sports coach or a family friend.

Child welfare is a serious issue and adults have a responsibility to address with issue soberly and seriously, making sure that we allow children to not only be safe, but to feel safe.

Children rely on the adults in their lives to keep their world safe which in turn gives them confidence to grow, learn and explore. If adults and the media are hysterical, fear-filled reactionaries, then what hope do our children have?

-- Nora

UPDATE: Girl's abduction report 'invented'. Told you so.

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