I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living,
My baby you'll be.
(from the children's book, Love You Forever by Robert Munsch)
I can't even begin to imagine the amount of grief experienced by a parent whose child has died , or whose child has been killed in an accident, or whose child has been killed in some horrible act of violence. Children are supposed to outlive their parents. That's the circle of life. That is the way it is supposed to be.
Parenting is challenging in these increasingly troubled times. The Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports that 75% of parents fear that something could happen, such as an abduction or death, to take their children away from their loving arms. Even when their children grow up with children of their own, parents never stop parenting and never stop having concerns. Parents' children will always be their "babies' even after the children are grown. That is instinctive.
A parent whose child's life is taken away by a senseless act of violence must experience the very worst kind of grief. Helping parents to keep their children safe and empowering children to take a proactive role in keeping themselves safe from abuduction, exploitation, or predator harm is the reason that I wrote my book, What Would You Do? A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers. The objective is to protect children and spare parents needless, horrible grief - the kind of grief experienced by my childhood best friend's mother when her child's life was violently taken.
When my best friend and I were in the fifth grade, more years ago than I care to think about, I awoke on a Monday morning to my mother having to explain to me that my best friend wouldn't be in school anymore. She explained to me, as gently as she could, that my friend had been abducted, sexually assaulted, and murdered the evening before. That was a difficult thing for a fifth grader to comprehend. But the trauma stuck with me thereafter.
After my best friend was murdered, whenever I would walk to school, I would have to pass the site where my friend’s body was discovered. I remember for the longest time running, terrified, past that spot each time. Adding to the tragedy of the story is the fact that her mother, the next year, committed suicide by hanging herself. She was never able to cope with the loss of her daughter, her baby, especially in such a violent way.
That's why taking steps to keep children safe is so important. Parents and children, teachers and students who share and practice the strategies taught in my book, What Would You Do? A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers are taking an important first step in accomplishing that safety objective.