Don’t let kids learn dangers the hard way

Last night just after midnight We got a robo-call, like a reverse 911 call, from our local Police department informing us of a missing 7-year-old boy. The recorded voice asked us to check our property and out-buildings and if there were orchards nearby, to check those as well.

From the address area given we new that it was near some very full, fast-running canals and immediately my heart sank as I thought of the terrible possibilities. This was every parents worst nightmare playing out in our very own little town.

A search was organized, a helicopter put into service and prayers were offered. After checking the yard I tried to go back to sleep…it took a while. Waking up this morning I immediately went to Facebook to hopefully hear news. It was good news. Thankfully a short after the call went out this little boy was found, hiding and asleep, not sure where, but he was found safe.

My heart goes out to the parents of this child and every other parent who answered the phone last night after midnight and then was refused sleep.

Today my mind turns to the opposite news we could have heard instead. So many possibilities. I have young children and this could have easily been a story about us…or any family.

Strangers, abduction, violence. All these come to mind when we hear of a missing child on the news. If we look at the list of bad things that can happen to a child we tend to jump to these statistically very rare possibilities and over look the more common dangers. Are we teaching our kids the dangers of things in their own backyards?

Growing up we lived in a suburban residential neighborhood that was one house away from a concrete canal that ran though the middle of town It was about 3 feet deep and 10 or 12 feet at the widest point. It was completely fenced, yet every summer the danger of getting anywhere near this canal was pounded into our brain.

Today, my family lives in a rural community and here the canal is 40 feet wide and 20 feet deep with very steep, moss-covered sides. And it’s open to whoever wants to walk down. No fencing no protection at all except that little voice of warning that we hope is there for our children.

Other than the occasional “Don’t go near the canal” my kids haven’t heard much about it or the other dangers that are nearby in our town. They hear about internet safety and other cyber threats but the physical dangers are still there, all around them.

After last night, I’ll be taking a bit more time to point out what’s out there, in our own backyard.

What do you think?