Just Fun — Absolutely No Point. Just an Upper

Hi Readers!- It’s Sunday. Let’s have a little fun. We can worry about the way the world is going, but later. I, for one, needed this! — Lenore (who, yes, also also worried about her falling off the countertop. But she didn’t. So enjoy.)  

Outrage of the Week: 14 y.o. Arrested for “Abduction” Of Toddler He Helped

Readers — Once again, I’m just at a loss for words. Here’s the story of a 14-year-old boy named Edwin who was shopping with his mom at a Burlington Coat Factory in Florida. When he saw a 3-year-old  girl looking lost he took her around to try to find her mom. His own mom saw him go looking and said she would try to help, too.

Then Edwin saw a group of women leaving the store and thought the girl’s mom might be among them. So he went out of the store and finally took the little girl’s hand. When he realized the mom wasn’t among this group, he returned to the store. He met up with his mom and the girl’s mom. He handed the little girl over and proceeded to shop for shoes with his own mom.

And then he was arrested for “attempted abduction.”  The press arrived as he was lead out of the store in handcuffs. This wonderful column by Mike Thomas in the Orlando Sentinel says it best:

Edwin is quite the kidnapper. He brings his mom along. He hangs out in front of the store until the victim’s mother shows up. And then he returns to the store and starts shopping for shoes.

That’s one cool customer.

Detectives arrived and investigated. They then slapped the cuffs on Edwin and paraded him out in front of television cameras by now waiting outside.

“We tried to be sensitive to the fact he was 14,” said Orange County sheriff’s spokesman Jeff Williamson. “We made an effort to keep direct questions out of his face.”

Hardly. Two reporters shoved microphones in Edwin’s face without any objection from the detectives escorting him. One of the investigators probably could have bitten one of the reporters on the arm.

“Can you tell us why you’re in handcuffs?” a reporter shouted out. “Did you try to kidnap someone?”

Despite his young age, one television station identified Edwin and put the video of his arrest on its website…. But look at the evidence.

We have the little girl’s mother losing track of her daughter.

We have Edwin’s mother not taking the girl from Edwin and turning her over to a store employee.

And we have Edwin in handcuffs.

I’m not sure the problem here is with the 14-year-old.

Interestingly enough, the girl’s mother never did press charges. But the Sheriff’s Office decided it would, ultimately settling on a charge of false imprisonment.

“He was in custody of the child and had no authority to be so,” said Capt. Angelo Nieves. “The thing is to make clear we have not charged him with an offense that did not occur.”

Congratulations.

Let’s recall, meantime, what happens when it becomes the norm to suspect any Good Samaritan, of any age, under any circumstances, of the most disgusting of motives. Recall the story of the man in England who also saw a lost toddler, this one on the side of the road he was driving by. He thought of stopping the car, scooping her up and driving her around till he could find where she’d wandered off from. But then he thought, “What will it look like if I’ve got a little girl who’s not mine in my car?” He knew exactly what it would look like.  So he didn’t pick her up.

And then she drowned.

I hate that story (but can’t find it on Google — can you, readers? Please provide a link!) And I hate the one above it. When we react to our fellow human beings with the very worst, most vile assumptions first, we are less and less apt to reach out and help each other.  That’s not a safer world.  It’s the opposite. — Lenore

P.S. A reader named Fred did find a link to the English tragedy.

Moral of story: Avoid forlorn children!

Lessons from The Baby-sitters Club

Hi Folks! Here’s a lovely essay by The Wall Street Journal’s Laura Vanderkam about, well, the cultural significance of The Baby-sitters Club.

Yes, I know how ridiculous (or at least American Studies for Dummies) that sounds. And yet — you don’t sell 176 million copies of any series without making some kind of impression on society. And the impression young readers got from the girls in the Club was that kids their age could actually be responsible and make money. Like adults! As Ms. Vanderkam puts it:

Hidden in the plots that show that friendship is good and that teasing, racism and bossy boyfriends are bad, [author Ann M.] Martin imparts two more important messages that modern readers need to hear: Teen girls are capable of handling far more responsibility than we give them credit for, and they, like the rest of us, can choose to make their own way in the world.

Right on! One of the Free-Range notions is that kids long to be adults, and that’s a good thing. The human desire to grow up motivates kids to learn and strive and get a paper route. (Remember paper routes? Remember papers?) It is our job to help them along that path, rather than putting up a big, “CAUTION!” sign and marching them back to the ExerSaucer.

About a year ago I posted a query asking, “What age did you babysit? And what age babysitter would you hire now?” The discrepancies amazed me. Grown women who had cared for kids, even infants, at age 10 or 11 now wouldn’t let their 13-year-old stay home for an hour alone at night. And they sure wouldn’t trust their toddlers to a 12-year-old.

Scholastic’s Baby-sitters Club, about to be re-issued (with a new prequel, too!), reminds us that not very long ago at all, we trusted “tweens” to do more than just text. God, maybe we didn’t even call them tweens. — Lenore

Shark to 14-Year-Old Girl: Okay, Okay. You Win!

"I thought she'd be my chum!" PHOTO CREDIT: miusam-ck

Hi Readers — Not quite sure what this has to do with Free-Range other than: Never underestimate the power of a 14-year-old girl! The one in this New Zealand incident gave her attacker a whack and lived to tell the (shark) tale.  — Lenore

Good News! About A Girl & A Bike!

Sometimes, things go the RIGHT way.  Here’s a story about a girl who wondered why she couldn’t bike to school. When her mom told her it was because the city needed sidewalks, she got to work!