Up on My Soapbox

In 1982 a 12-yr old paperboy was abducted from my hometown. His name was Johnny Gosch. As the years have gone by, his mother, Noreen, has never given up the search for her son and even though a few years ago a grown Johnny came to her door and spoke to her, he cannot come home. He isn’t safe. Her life-long committment to her son’s plight has touched a nerve. You can read all about it on her website.

I bring this up now because it seems there has been a huge interest in the pedafile in our society. Dateline NBC has their “to catch a predator” series, and it was highlighted on Oprah the other day. I’ve noticed more of the Law and Order shows dedicated to this topic, and a huge upswing of general talk about it.

As a parent of grown children I am so thankful that they grew up safely. As a child growing up in the midwest I felt insulated from this kind of thing. Occasionally we would hear about “weirdos” in the area – I had an 8-yr-old friend who was “flashed” on the way to school one day – but other than that, we lived pretty insulated lives. I remember the day I heard about Johnny Gosch being abducted. I had three children, 7, 5, and 2. I was stunned to think this happened in the community where I had lived and gone to school. Further stunned when another paperboy was taken a couple years later in the same town, the same way. Now, many years later, I read on Noreen’s site that there was yet another 12-yr-old boy taken a couple years after that and it never even made the news!! I just don’t understand this apathy being shown by the police department and the news media in these cases.

Noreen has hired private detectives over the years and has linked the previous chief of police to an infamous pedefile ring that was broken up in Omaha, Nebraska, a few years ago. She’s found proof of links to high ranking officials in law enforcement, media and our government.

I believe it. I believe it all. I’ve watched the NBC show catch all levels of society trying to meet up to have sex with minors. They’ve busted the upper-echelon to the middle-class to the most trusted members of our society, teachers, principals, and even a rabbi! We’ve all heard the stories of the Catholic priests. A few years ago a school board member and well-respected local businessman was caught in bed with his own daughter, a minor. We find out he’s been doing it for years – and with more than one daughter. My own daughter had been to their home to spend the night, and bless her heart, trusted her instincts when she said, “Mom, he’s creepy”. Yes, he was.

People try to blame it on the internet. No, folks. It’s not the internet. Yes, the internet has probably made it a bit easier for the creeps, but they’ve always been there and they will always be there. The internet has just made it more obvious to those of us who live in relatively sheltered lives that this is “out there”. This is way more prevalant that most of us know, or want to know, but you can’t close your eyes to it. I hope these people keep getting caught. I hope they are not treated like “ill” individuals, but the criminals they are. I have no sympathy for them. The children’s lives they have ruined with their “illness” will follow them for the rest of their lives.

Children shouldn’t have to live in fear.

Crying Wolf

We’ve all heard the story of the Little Boy Who Cried Wolf. For those of you who have been living under a rock, the condensed version is the little boy was tending his sheep and liked the attention called when he cried “wolf!”. One day he cried “wolf!” too many times and people didn’t believe him and didn’t come – and that, of course, was the day there really was a wolf.

I have my own version of that going on in my house. It’s called the Smoke Detectors That Go Off. I have mentioned this before, but I’m going to bring it up again. This time I’m on a mission. I want new smoke detectors. I mean it.

I like having smoke detectors. I do. Especially since my parents’ house burned down. I’m a little paranoid. This is a bigger house than our old one. Yes, it’s newer, but that doesn’t mean things can’t catch on fire. We’re just lucky the lightening that hit our house and put a hole in the roof, didn’t catch anything on fire! If it had, I would hope the smoke detectors would have gone off and my daughter, home alone, would have safely gotten her and the critters out.

However, the way the ones we have now work, we’d all burn up.

We have several detectors and they are all hardwired into the electricity of the house, and some of them then also have a battery backup. It’s this that causes the problem. I’m used to the detectors that give you a polite little ‘beep’ every few minutes until you change them. They start off beeping far apart, getting closer together the longer you ignore them. Yet, they still maintain that quiet, polite, little ‘beep’.

The ones we have now give you no warning except to go off screaming – in the middle of the night. They all go off blaring loudly for about a 3 second interval and that, my friends, is your FIRST warning. I learned after that first time not to ignore the warning, but got right to it and replaced all the batteries. I did it over Memorial Weekend. You know, just a few short months ago. I remember checking the battery expiration dates to be sure they were still good – yes, they were all good until 2010. Should make it a year, then, huh? So… why did the alarm go off last night? Not, I might add, for the three-second warning, but for the full blaring 10-minute-until-I-could-pull-the-plug warning? …and yes, I checked. I found no fire. Also, there is no way to tell which one is the bad battery, as they all go off if one goes off. So, you either change them all or hit and miss.

Which brings me back to the boy and the wolf. Instead of spending 10 minutes trying to figure out what was burning, I should be getting my family and critters out of the house, then trying to figure out what is burning. I should be able to rely on the fact that something is actually wrong… (and, no, they don’t put them near kitchens anymore because they know people are always setting them off burning the toast.) Not to mention the middle-of-the-night jolt of adrenaline that I did NOT need and didn’t leave my system for a good three hours.

As top-of-the-line as I’m sure these detectors are, I don’t want them. I promise to change them once a year. I promise to pay attention if they politely beep at me to tell me “this one has a bad battery and it’s gone down before the year has expired”. I just don’t need any more false alarms.