The World is an “Unfenced Pool:” Common Sense Rules for Protecting Your Child (Part 4)

1. Young children must be in the direct line of vision of an attentive caretaker at all times. 

This is particularly true of unprotected front yards, driveways, apartment common areas, malls, school yards, stores, amusement parks and at the movies

Over twenty years ago, two year old Amy Sue Seitz was watching cartoons in the front room of her babysitter’s house. She dozed off, and when she woke up she wandered out into the front yard to play. It was not uncommon for her to entertain herself in the front yard, so when the babysitter heard the front door open and close she assumed it was Amy going outside to play. A few minutes later she had disappeared. This was a child friendly neighborhood where young families up and down the street allowed their young children the freedom of front yards and neighborhood.

Unfortunately, six weeks earlier and 120 miles away in Atascadero, a repeat child molester was released on parole from the hospital for the criminally insane. He had been declared cured by the psychiatric staff of the hospital. As you can well imagine, child molesters look pretty good when incarcerated away from children.  He quickly made his way to Los Angeles where he launched a series of sexual assaults against children and adolescents that would result in his being arrested and tried for multiple offenses before he was ever arrested for the rape and murder of Amy Sue.

Two days before he kidnapped Amy Sue, he had tried to grab another little girl in Ventura. But her mother interrupted him and it was her description that finally let to his arrest. But Mr. Frank was not deterred by almost getting caught and returned next day when he spotted the little blond-haired child playing in her front yard. He slowed, and then pulled over the curb… “Hi, sweetheart would you like to see the puppies in the back of my van.” They found her raped and tortured body in a Topanga Canyon cul-de-sac three days later.

Being a parent of a pre-schooler means being on high alert at all times! Whether you are home with him alone, with other children on a play date or in public settings! Small children find their way into big trouble quickly when left to their own curiosity and innocence. It is always hard to be omnipresent, but as parents this becomes our role.   In the next section we will discuss abuse at the hands of those we know or trust.