I get it. I understand the fear. I see you. I hear you.
But I’m going to need you to tamp that crazy down.
Just as our kids were returning to school last week, I noticed a lot of alarmist posts on social media. One was about a teenager narrowly escaping sex-trafficking at our local Wal-Mart. Then, there was a bout of “change your profile picture to not include your children” announcements. This one warned that if you accept a friend request from a stranger and then post a picture of your child on the first day of school, YOU WILL REGRET IT FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. The post went on to explain that by the end of the school day, your child will be on a plane with a sack over her head as a result of being sold into sex slavery for $5000.
Are we talking about first graders or an episode of Scandal?
I am already fighting my own crazy over here. I need some of y’all to at least try to keep your social media panic to yourselves.
I know that sex trafficking is real. I also know, statistically, that it happens mostly to teenagers who are vulnerable because of addiction, homelessness, or isolation because of their sexual orientation. Our elementary kids aren’t really at risk. Getting my own kids from their schools requires getting through a security protocol similar to Ft. Knox. An international child pornography ring doesn’t stand a chance against those ladies in the front office.
I know that kidnapping is real. Statistically, though, my kids aren’t going to be snatched from me by a stranger who is pretending to buy gum at Target. I understand that we need to teach our kids to be cautious, both out in public and online. I understand the desire to keep our kids safe. What I can’t participate in is the frenzy. I just can’t.
I already have to fight like hell to not sit on my children to prevent them from walking out the door. Every single day, I consciously make the decision that fear will not be the boss of this family. It is a moral and emotional victory for me every time one of my kids has an adventure without me and then bursts back in to tell me all about it. They need space to practice their freedom and it’s my job to give it to them.
Not surprisingly, I think this online hysteria is about control. If I can control who sees my online media, then no one will hurt my kids. If I keep my kids close by me at all times, then no one will take them. If I do everything right, then these precious children, who are my heart, will be okay. To imagine that they will be harmed is unbearable; so, we go to extreme levels of overprotection to keep them safe. We kind of lose our minds.
Maybe we can take it down a notch. By all means, be careful at IKEA and on Facebook. We just don’t need to be so hysterical.
It’s not good for you or for me or for our kids. I know it can be a scary world; let’s not make it even scarier.