A Nice Note from An Aussie (About Serial Killers)

Hey Readers — This was an extremely nice reaction to my talk at the Sydney Opera House yesterday, so how could I resist posting it? Tomorrow I’ll be at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne (free!).  And after that…back to America!

Dear Lenore: I loved what you had to say about how news was once finite, but now it’s an endless loop (first on TV, then in our heads forever after.) We almost have our own personal “Canon of Crime” that we carry about with us in our heads.

For the first time, I let my 6.5 year old son use the Men’s Change Room at the pool this week (without me, obviously!) As he dashed in and the door shut behind him, the very first thing that came into my head was a picture of a girl named Natalie. I taught Natalie briefly back in 1992, in my first year out of Uni as a teacher, and the following year, she was murdered literally as she walked home from school. To be murdered walking home from school (by a ‘serial killer’, no less) must be the rarest-of-the-rare subset of child murders, but it still happened. The details are beyond sickening. And I still see Natalie’s face in my head every time I let my son have a bit of Free-Range Freedom.

After hearing your talk, I finally realised that I am using this horrifying, rare, extreme incident as a measure of risk. Even when my son uses a rest-room alone! This is NOT being ‘careful’ or ‘responsible as a parent’. It’s neurotic! It’s a crime that happened almost 20 years ago, a crime statistically so rare that you’d struggle to find another one like it, at least in Australia. It gives the actions of one nutter even more power, like a wave that goes on and on.

It takes a bucket-load of energy and humour to dispel fear. Thank you. — Fiona