Scary news of lost child grips us all
How could we not but hold our collective breath? All of those of us who have children in Portland Public Schools got the auto-call sometime Friday evening; a second-grader from Skyline Elementary in Southwest Portland, Kyron Horman, was lost to his family and the school sometime between a science fair before school opened, and his arrival at class. His stepmother visited the science fair with him; classmates saw him headed towards his room; when she met the bus at 3:45, he wasn't there at all. Police, FBI, and other agencies have no idea. There is no evidence of foul play.
I had wondered why the automated call I always get around 10:30 a.m. if my child is absent, hadn't triggered concern -- but the latest news from today's press conference with PPS superintendent Carole Smith is that it was such a small school, teachers usually know students and parents and the reasons for absences, and didn't have a dialer. All schools will now be getting automatic dialers (although the timeline for that change wasn't announced). It was just a slip, through a crack no one even thought to concern themselves with. And why? A safe neighborhood, a small school, a sweet child. What could go wrong?
The unthinkable. I've been thinking a lot about such typically unthinkable happenstances over the past few weeks, as I came across the news of writer and prolific mommy blogger Kate Granju's oldest son, Henry. He died several weeks after overdosing on the drugs to which he'd become addicted, and being beaten badly. And earlier today, I came across another mother searching for her 16-year-old daughter, last seen in Seattle. These things happen in lovely, loving families just like ours, and they chill to the bone and have me looking around instinctively every few minutes to make sure my boys are safe.
They are, and according to the FBI, violent crimes were down 5.5% last year and have been falling for several years. Free Range Kids creator Lenore Skenazy points this out in her blog, with great little tidbits like this one from a pediatric ICU nurse: "the real dangers are overlooked. Lock your second story windows, make sure your kids understand car and bike safety. Model safe behavior. Don’t talk and text while driving... I can tell you that I have NEVER once taken care of a kid who was assaulted by a stranger."
What is there to be done? Who is to blame? I don't see failings in security or parental care; I think the best answer is to be vigilant, to pray for these other family's awful predicament and the continued safety of our own, and to hug our children tight as much as we can and thank heavens for them.