Oct 23 2009

In Memory of Somer Thompson, Age 7, Orange Park, Florida

Published by at 10:38 PM under Somer Thompson

There are no fitting words to accurately describe the emotions many of us are feeling as we learn of the tragic death of 7 year old, Somer Thompson in Orange Park, Florida this week.  Anger, rage, frustration, sadness – come close, but still feel hollow and empty as I think of what this little girl’s family is going through right now.

My heart and prayers go out to Somer’s mother, Diena Thompson.  As a mom myself, I cannot even imagine the devastating pain and the depth of grief that she is facing now.

In the last 24 hours I’ve spoken to several parents who feel frightened and helpless; looking for answers and assurances that this won’t happen to their children.  I’ve watched the news, seen the interviews and listened to the commentators.

When something as  horrific as a child abduction occurs, many people want to single out that one “factor” or “variable” that they can control or point to and say “See, if they only ___________, this wouldn’t have happened.” But it’s not that simple.

In a misguided search for guarantees, parents and school administrators will continue their heated arguments for and against children walking to school on their own. That’s a discussion I will gladly address in another blog entry, because there are a multitude of issues that must be considered, and there is no clear cut, “one-size-fits-all” answer.

What I do know is this:

You can do everything within your power and still

sometimes bad things happen.

I also know that statistically, the type of abduction that occurred in the case of Somer Thompson, is on the decline according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and The Crimes Against Children Research Center.   Yes, that is somewhat reassuring.

However, I’m sure that’s of little comfort to Somer’s mother right now.  And as far as I’m concerned, statistics are fine but even ONE child being abducted, abused, or murdered is TOO MANY.

I can’t offer any 100% guarantees or solutions.   No one can.

And, I’m not suggesting that we be terribly paranoid or overly protective parents to the point of smothering our kids with ridiculous restrictions.    But I also don’t believe in sticking my head in the sand, living in denial, or simply relying on statistics and nothing else when it comes to my child’s safety.

It’s not enough to say “We live in a ‘nice, safe’ neighborhood where this kind of thing doesn’t happen.”

We can argue about the media’s sensationalizing these stories in order to up their ratings.    But it doesn’t change the fact that children go missing every day, and some never return home.

Right now, I’m glad the media has been highlighting Somer Thompson’s story and many others.     Not because of the fear that subsequently results.  (That part I can live without).

But because maybe it will serve as a reminder or a teachable moment for parents to simply take a few minutes to talk to their children about safety issues, maybe create an action plan for their kids if they do walk home from school on their own.

Maybe one more child can be saved in honor of Somer Thompson’s memory.



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