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THIS Is Why My Kids Can't Walk to School

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Somer Thompson's death gives one mom a wake-up call.

florida girl somer thompson missing

Momlogic's Julie: Last month, the New York Times ran a piece called "Why Can't She Walk to School?"

I'd like to answer that question now. Why can't my kids walk to school? Somer Thompson is the reason why. There are just too many evil, crazy people out there, and her murder is proof of that.

115 children are kidnapped by strangers each year, according to federal statistics. There are 73.7 million children in the U.S. YES, I realize that the odds are slim that the worst could happen. But tell that to Diena Thompson, Somer's mom. The odds were just as slim for her, and it happened.

It happened. And now her child is dead.

The New York Times article said that only 13 percent of kids walk or bike to school these days because parents are so anxious that something awful could happen. I'm definitely one of those paranoid parents, and Somer's heartbreaking case only makes me more vigilant.

Yes, I know my kids are much more likely to get into a car wreck on the way to school than be abducted while walking home. I get it. But Somer didn't die in a car crash. She died after being abducted, while walking home from school. And, as a parent, that is something I believe you could never get over -- never in a million years.

The child killer who did this to Somer didn't just kill that little girl ... he killed her whole family. Her mother. Her twin brother. Her other siblings. Her wheelchair-bound dad. Those people who loved Somer most will never be the same. This animal on the loose took away their innocence and life as they know it. He took away their Somer -- snuffed out her bright young life and threw her in a landfill like yesterday's trash.

So when you ask me why I won't let my kids walk to school ... THIS is why. Somer is why.

Call me paranoid all you want. But letting my kids walk alone is just not a risk I'm willing to take.

next: Michigan Too Broke to Inspect School Buses, May Stop Service
84 comments so far | Post a comment now
NYCRoe October 22, 2009, 3:32 PM

I agree with you on the penalizing predators, I do not believe they can be rehabilitated & should be inprisoned indefinitely.
At this time I also agree about her grief. But I also still believe that she would advise people not to leave their young children alone. She may not speak on this publicly, but at least with friends and family members I am sure. Most people, when hit with such a tragedy- look to make a difference and spread awareness.

Nicola October 22, 2009, 3:37 PM

It’s a shame to see such a knee jerk reaction to a child being abducted. The statistics are far more grim for children being shuttled around and kept inside.

Morbid childhood obesity is on the rise and consequently type II diabetes. In our CHILDREN. **TEENAGERS** are needing heart transplants, not because of a genetic defect, but because they are overweight! Fatty livers, doctors who have said they never used to see them in people 20 and younger, are more and more prevalent… and even kidney disease is rising among 8-year-olds.

I’m sorry - but 115 kids out of the us dying at the hands of a stranger is low enough for me to ensure my kids walk themselves to school and home, and get outside and play. When we’re talking 1 in 4 kids KIDS being obese - I’ll take the precautions (outside - both of you) to ensure that I prevent THAT.

People want to talk about not putting their kids in danger - that’s exactly what you do when you shuttle them around and shut them up in the house like prisoners. You are killing them. Just look at any health related news and see the statistics.

For goodness sake - According to the National Weather Service, 400 people a year are struck by lighting. DOUBLE HOW MANY KIDS ARE KIDNAPPED. Are you telling me we should start issuing mandatory prison time for people that decide to go outside during a thunderstorm too?

mister bunny October 22, 2009, 3:47 PM

There’s an epidemic in this country…not of children being snatched but of fat kids who couldn’t run to the end of the driveway if the hounds of hell chased them.

Stop worrying about that one in a bazillion chance that a kid will be grabbed by a stranger (and honestly? we don’t know that she was abducted yet, let alone by a stranger), and start getting your kids off of the couch and out of the house. They’ll thank you when they’re 40 years old and not on blood pressure meds and diabetic.

Wendi October 22, 2009, 4:02 PM

I stated that I keep my kids close to me and don’t let them walk to school and such, however that does not mean that they are locked up in the house either. We are always on the go with either baseball or volleyball. They are both in middleschool and I can tell you that when they were younger they took Taekwondo and both have black belts and know how to protect themselves. Yet, just because they can protect themseleves does not mean that I should allow them to be in situations where they may have to. I do not believe that any of us think that we are better mothers then the other, fact is that all we want to do is keep our kids safe. Why is that so wrong? My heart goes out to this mother and the whole family, I can not imagine the pain that they are going through.

Wizz October 22, 2009, 4:16 PM

Why don’t you walk your child to school?

Nicola October 22, 2009, 4:26 PM

@Wendy: You are right in that we do want to keep our kids safe. No one is better than the others - I’m in agreement. But there are a lot of people not using logic!
There are so many studies that tell us why having kids outside, away from adults, is important. I have watched my kids blossom into independent thinkers - capable of solving their own troubles with other kids. I’ve watched them get to know the neighbors (and seen just how delighted many of the neighbors are that I’m not stuck to my kids’ sides 24-7 so that even they get a chance to see kids like they used to when they were kids). I have a lady in the neighborhood who is a teacher who flat out told me that she felt a peace from my children that she’s not felt from kids in her classes - she and I both attribute it to being outside, in nature, free. Not that I don’t take my kids to structured activities - one does soccer, one does gymnastics - but the most important thing when they are outside is thinking for themselves and inventing games/rules/structures for play **on their own.**

Too many parents anymore overlook that simple bit of importance - free play **without** mom/dad hovering over you ensuring you’re doing a good job.

Employers tell stories of 20-year-olds who, when they get in trouble on the job, literally call their mom or dad to talk to the boss for them! Same with college students now… they get a bad grade, they don’t even know how to talk to the professor, they call up mom and dad to help them. (Teacups, is what the colleges call them, because the kids are so derned fragile.) This is what our kids are turning in to - they can’t handle life because we’re not letting them learn!

I don’t feel like a better mom or superior than anyone else, but I do feel like I’m making the best choices for my kids - and that includes letting them outside on their own to play, and letting them walk to and from school on their own.

The discoveries and confidence that they’ve gained through it… I wouldn’t trade it for the world. A lot of people claim their kids get that even with them right there… but it’s not the same and no one can say they know that until they’ve seen it for themselves. Not to mention I’m setting them up for a future free of diabetes medication, anti-depressants, and obesity which is more of a danger to my children than a stranger ever will be.

NYCRoe October 22, 2009, 4:52 PM

I agree with you, Wendi. My daughter, who is in middle school as well- is very active. She is outside all the time. I let her go places. She goes to the park.She hangs out with her friends. I just do not let her go alone. Why is it so wrong? We are not saying we are right and you are wrong. This is our choice- what’s with all the hostility?

NYCRoe October 22, 2009, 5:00 PM

And when I say I don’t let her go alone, I mean she can go but with a group of children instead of walking alone. Somer’s mom had her travel with other children- some things unfortunately happen anyway.
Since there are no other children that take the same route as my daughter- I go with her to and from school. So if other people think I’m wrong, good for them, it’s my choice.

Niurka October 22, 2009, 5:23 PM

This is the issue I had with this story. Why do you let a 7 year old walk home from school without an adult, especially in a state that is known for having many child predators?

ame i. October 22, 2009, 8:31 PM

My older daughter attends a private school 5 miles from our home. Walking to school or riding her bike is not an option. My younger daughter’s school is only a mile away but there are no sidewalks, so walking or riding a bike is not an option.
I started planning years before I had my children. I was married for 8 years, skimped and saved like crazy .I even considered getting pregnant so I could stop working and stay home to care for the children I planned to have.
I get sick of hearing about the hardships of parents who didn’t think to plan and decide how they would care for their kids before they arrived. Parenthood shouldn’t be a surprise. We all know where children come from.

mom4kayla October 22, 2009, 8:32 PM

You know, when it comes right down to it there are lots of things we as parents have to be concerned about when protecting our children. Car rides, walking, going to the rest room alone. This day and time in the world we live in-unfortunatly…this is just the way it is.

Here in Roanoke Va this past week we have a college aged girl missing from a concert, sepetated from her friends.
Children, and young adults are easier prey. We still do not know what has happened to Morgan, and there are currently no leads.

Bottom line, we need to all come to a basic agreement,we love our children and want to protect them at all cost.We all do what we think is best. Hin site does nothing for us.

Love, kindness, understanding, sympathy, all the negatives need to be turned into positive thoughts of love, comfort, support, and acts of kindness for those families who have lost their children in accidents or at the hand of violence, missing child in which their parents are praying that their child will be found alive.

Turn your attention to your surroundings,watch for those on America’s most wanted, those missing and those wanted. Help with search parties, forward emails, news links, pictures..etc..

Agree to disagree. Drunk drivers, preditors, etc.. there are lots of things we all must consider these days as dangers to our children.We must all (those with children and those without children) do our part to protect their young innocent lives.

Please disregard type o’s and miss spellings. I’m on BBerry and not the best speller.

God bless us all.

JaneJane October 22, 2009, 8:42 PM

Wendi—Are you kidding me?? You seem to pride yourself on doing “everything in your power to make sure they are safe at all times.” Really? Then you’d better sell that car. You do know that there’s a MUCH higher chance you children will get killed in a car accident than abducted, right? And while you’re posting that ad on craigslit to sell your car, then you better sell their beds at the same time. Because children have died falling from their beds (and no, we’re not only talking bunk beds—which of course you don’t have.) In fact, you’d better just keep them locked inside your house at all times. Call a contractor to get padded walls and seal up the windows.

Frankly, I pity your children.

ame i. October 22, 2009, 8:45 PM

I waited a decade after getting married to have children because I know first hand how many evil people there are in the world. I was so careful to not get pregnant before I could make my daughters, not my job, my first priority.

SallyForth October 22, 2009, 8:55 PM

NYCRoe—It does come across as placing blame when you say, “Rest assured, many things can happen- but my child being abducted on the way to or from school isn’t going to be one of them if I can help it.” How can that make Somer’s mom feel if she ever reads it? Your saying “if I can help it” implies that Somer’s mom couldn’t. That she didn’t do everything in her power to prevent it. Tragic, horrible, rotten things happen. Period. You seem to think your being there will prevent them. Even Jaycee’s abduction was witnessed by her stepfather. Think what you want, but you are placing blame when you write what you do.

Anonymous October 22, 2009, 8:59 PM

Years ago I was taken off the street on my way home from school. The man keep me at his house and tried to get me to do all kinds of sex acts. When I refused and ask to leave, he got angry and beat me up. He then started to do sex acts to himself and while he was laying in bed, I made a break for the door.I ran as fast to my house as possible. The man was a policeman and I saw him drive by me day. I never told anybody about this till now That lady is right. I live that day every day of my life.

Al October 22, 2009, 9:46 PM

Try not to let a one-in-a-million chance story twist your perception of the world we live in. We all have to take care and do our best but try not to let it curb your or or childs freedom and independance. Be strong and don’t live in fear.

Nicola October 22, 2009, 10:00 PM

I’m just not willing to make my children incapable of handling adulthood because of the small statistical chance that letting them do things on their own will result in an abduction.

I’m not going to stop doing my daily activities when it’s storming outside because of the statistical chance (more than double that of abduction) that I will get struck by lightning.

Being afraid is absolutely part of being a parent - but being illogical is not. We are hearing about a girl from Florida - not someone down your street, not a million kids that were taken. That should tell you something. As another person said, it’s called news for a reason… because if it happened all the time, it would be an every day occurrence.

You can choose, as is your right, to ignore logic and statistical data in order to make yourself feel better. It’s a right and people do it all the time. But I’m going to take a different tack, in pointing out that just because it makes you feel better, does not make it what is best for your children in the future.

Someone earlier said that’s just the way it is. No - it’s not. It’s the way it is on television and sensationalistic news programs that want to scare you. It’s the way it is when you’re watching a TV commercial where they’re trying to scare you into needing their product (“When little Jimmy gets home and puts in his code, mom gets a text!”). It’s NOT the way it is in everyday, real life - and the statistics show it - the department of defense shows it. Child experts even know it! The way it is is that more and more people are watching television and taking the fear-mongering as gospel that happens right down the street from them… and that’s not right. Think of the ten-year-old boy in the women’s restroom, brought there by a mom too afraid to turn around. Who’s going to be the one messed up by that in their future. Hint, they’re not female.

Ralph Law October 22, 2009, 10:09 PM

I feel ashaed that we have fellow Americans who would do these terrible acts. I also must question why it is that the culture in the United States tends to seed and bloom evil humans more than any other developed nation. Why is it unsafe for women to walk in streets after dark in the U.S. or for children nearly any time? Why?

The answer might light in the fact that this country lacks moral leadership at the top, and has for decades.

Deebo October 22, 2009, 11:22 PM

This is every parent’s worst nightmare, and every time this happens I think we look for the mistake that was made that lead to the tragedy. It’s the only way we feel any sort of control - how we keep the panic at bay. If we can say, well, I’m not going to let me kids walk to school, we can reassure ourselves enough to get to sleep at night. If we are pointing the finger at Somer’s mother, it’s only because we are so damn scared ourselves. It’s a cruel fact of human nature - the best way to make yourself feel better is by feeling better than someone else. I’m going to go kiss and hug my kids who are asleep right now, thank God they are safe for today, and remind myself to talk seriously to them about what to do if someone does try to abduct them - scream, make noise, try to run. They don’t walk to or from school - I don’t know if they ever will. It’s unthinkable, unimaginable that this happens.

Jordan October 23, 2009, 1:07 AM

I am with Julie on this one. There are way too many crazy nut jobs out there. (I for one am planning to homeschool). However, it is unfortunate that a lot of parents are unable to even walk/drive their kids to and from school because there are no options but to work. The majority of employers tend not to be supportive in extending parents a little leeway and flexibility in order for their employees to make sure their children are safe. Shame on the employers for that.

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