What The “Child Molested at a Library” Incident Teaches Us

Hi Readers — Yesterday, under my post about “Take Our Children to the Park & Leave Them There Day,” someone named Upstate Librarian  wrote: “…why dont you call the mother of the 9 year old that was raped today in the library in New York City. I’m sure she would agree with you on your feelings about leaving children for a few minutes in safe public environments.”

Here’s a response to THAT response, from frequent commenter Uly. Take it away, Uly!

“Dear Upstate Librarian. I’m sure you mean well. No, let me start over. I’m sure you do NOT mean well, that you intend only to shame and scare rather than to educate or learn, but I’m going to act like you mean well anyway.

Stranger molestation does happen. It does. Nobody here has ever claimed otherwise.

It happens very *rarely*, though. The vast majority of child molesters – hell, the vast majority of ALL rapists! – target people they know. For children, that’s almost always relatives.

One nine year old getting raped in a library is sad and unfortunate, but it should not affect your behavior unless, perhaps, there’s been a string of these incidents in your own community.

Likewise, many, many children die in car accidents every year, far more than get raped by strangers (and in fact car accidents are THE leading cause of death for Americans 15 and under), but this simple fact will probably not cause you to stop driving your kid around. (Heck, it doesn’t even convince people to use safer carseats!) Why? Because that would be silly.

When I was a kid I saw a kid get her shoelaces sucked into an escalator and my dad had to help cut her loose. My mother once saw a child fall and get her HAIR stuck in an escalator, which was very nearly tragic. Elevator accidents are more common than most people realize, but plenty of people still use elevators and allow their children to do so. Why? Because you can’t live your life scared of things that occasionally happen to some people.

When your child goes to the park with you, NOTHING is stopping them from being struck by lightning out of the clear blue sky (somewhere around 700 people are struck by lightning in the US yearly) or stung to death by a surprise attack of killer bees (moving northward) or randomly hit by an off-kilter bus. Your presence does not make your child safe. But you go ahead and send your child out in the world anyway, right? Because your kid can’t stay home all the time.

Heck, I bet you even send your child to school with other kids. And why not? That’s what most people do, right? Teachers are far, far, FAR more likely to molest their students than strangers are (although they still come in well under “parents”). Why is sending your child to school without you “safe” when sending your child to the park or the library is “unsafe”?

Because one is something you’re used to doing and seeing, and another is something you’re no longer used to doing and seeing. That’s all.

I don’t mean for you to start seeing the world as the terribly unsafe place it really is, of course. But you have GOT to put these things in perspective. I’m very upset for that poor girl, of course, but I don’t see how an isolated event should make me change my behavior and keep me from doing something that is, in fact, relatively safe. — Uly