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How can we protect our Children?
August 17, 2002 1:21 AM   Subscribe

How can we protect our Children?
posted by Spoon (58 comments total)

 
Two more families grieve for the loss of their children. How can we protect against the kind of determination that the perpertrators of crimes like these have? A friend of mine was in a shopping centre in London a few weeks ago with her toddler. She looked away for a minute and the child was gone. She called security who locked down the entire shopping centre. A search was made and after a couple of hours she got a call to come to the security office. The child did not look like her child. On closer inspection she found that the people who abducted her child had cut and dyed his hair, changed his clothes and drugged him. They never caught the people that so nearly got away with it. What chance do we have against people like this? What changes to the law are needed?
posted by Spoon at 1:27 AM on August 17, 2002


No offense, but are you certain this happened to your friend? (It's a well-worn urban legend) As far as the bigger question goes - stopping crime is impossible, passing new laws will not help. We can only be vigilant and promise that punishment for the people that do that sort of thing will be appropriately harsh.
posted by owillis at 1:32 AM on August 17, 2002


This is so 'won't anyone think about the children' its not even funny. Seriously, what are the odds of abduction and if we threw 100 billion dollars at the problem would it make a noticable difference? I don't think people, especially Americans, want to move into a police state to save a life or two, regardless of the age. That may sound cold-hearted but I'd like to see a poll about suspending certain amendments for the sake of kidnapping. Hell, I'd like to see that poll for terrorism.

Just because it makes the news doesn't necessarilly mean its an epidemic. England isn't exactly Colombia.
posted by skallas at 1:42 AM on August 17, 2002


Yes, if proven guilty beyond any doubt, public execution or sexual organ removal would be good enough to stop most of these sick bastards.
posted by Keyser Soze at 1:44 AM on August 17, 2002


certain.
posted by Spoon at 1:50 AM on August 17, 2002


I can't stand the tabloid hysteria and scaremongering surrounding this tragic story. For the past week papers like The Sun have been desperately trying to use this case as an argument to clamp down on the internet, despite the fact that almost from the beginning the police have stated outright that the internet played no part in the abduction. Today, facts are thrown out the window as The Sun Says "Virtually every street in Britain has a paedophile."
posted by ToothpickVic at 2:20 AM on August 17, 2002


Of course incestuous lesbianism (or the suggestion thereof) is perfectly acceptable.

British tabloid reporting: keeping Brass Eye Special topical well into the 21st century.
posted by Grangousier at 2:45 AM on August 17, 2002


I too can't help wondering how often this really happens, and whether this horrible phenomenon is a statistical blip.

I have always felt (and bear in mind I am the father of a 7 year old girl) that living in fear of molestation and abduction does our children no good. Teaching them how to cross the road, look after their bodies, and treat others respect is much more likely to be beneficial than 24x7 supervision and instilling a constant suspicion of others.

I am afraid there are enough people in Britain for it to be certain that there are subhuman types like these among them. That doesn't mean they're everywhere.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:48 AM on August 17, 2002


I see from Googling that The Sun's "expert" Lee Moore is a believer in widespread Satanic ritual abuse. That pretty much disqualifies Moore as far as I'm concerned.

So much for the Sun being the home of robust common sense...
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:52 AM on August 17, 2002


Spoon:

Okay, I'm going to do a repeat call on the "toddler was drugged, hair cut, and clothes changed" report. This is so close to an established and highly popular urban myth that - cruel as it may seem - I'm not going to believe it until you give more evidence (other than simply asserting your confidence in the story).

How did you hear about it? Why haven't the police warned others of such a dangerous practice? Child abductions are vanishingly rare, and such a particular modus operandi would beg wider publicity. How did the criminals manage to do all of that in such a short period of time? How did they catch the child, and not the perpetrators? Have you seen the toddler? How well do you know this friend?

You don't have to answer those questions, and I completely understand if you choose not to. But until I see more evidence, I personally would not credit this. (If you send me mail convincing me, I'll happily announce that publicly here. Or you might not care what I think anyway.).
posted by ntk at 3:16 AM on August 17, 2002


I'm wondering why it is that paedophiles have become #1 bogeymen in the last twenty years or so. Obviously, it's a particularly repellent crime/mental illness, but that doesn't explain the over-reaction and widespread belief that children are at high risk of being abducted and tormented (especially given the fact that the overwhelming majority of abused children are abused by family members/family friends)

Does anyone know of any research into the reasons why societies pick up on a particlar crime/group/whatever as a prime source of fear?
posted by jack_mo at 3:21 AM on August 17, 2002


I second, or third, on Spoon. I don't want to be mean, but it seems there would be a reliable report of this someplace. What city is it? What shopping center? Can one of our British members confirm it? How did they recover the kid, while the perp got away?

Last night Law & Order reran an episode where a baby was snatched from a shopping cart as the mother walked halfway down an aisle for some milk, all in one unbroken cut. Clearly advantageous programming (all L&O is "ripped from the headlines") based on the Texas case. In all the US there are typically fewer than 100 stranger abductions of any sort in a given year. All the rest are some variation of a custody dispute.

Returning to the Soham case: there's certainly some media hype going on, but the passingly strange circumstances of this spate of stranger abductions is quite curious. The moon is only half full. Sunspots?

But how we protect our kids? We can't -- not from every danger. This is horrible, but 10 or 100 times as many kids will die this year just from darting into the street without looking both ways.

jack_mo: The work of Milgram is probably useful along those lines, but it has been well studied. (Much research traces back to the whys and wherefores of Nazi Germany, naturally.) Here's an overview of scapegoating and social psychology. There's the Stanford Prison Experiment [mefi].
posted by dhartung at 4:10 AM on August 17, 2002


ntk/dhartung: That is not the point of this thread. Whether or not you choose to believe me (and I don't care if you do or not) - children get abducted too often - this kind of thing happens all the time.
posted by Spoon at 4:12 AM on August 17, 2002


I think part of it is the way these crimes are investigated now. All are done, in the UK at least but I suspect everywhere else too, in the full glare of national publicity and it's done that way to get the maximum amount of information in in the shortest possible time. I can't remember the last time a case like this came to a successful conclusion where kids missing for more than a couple of days were returned alive to their homes. To bring it to such a successful conclusion after a few days you need that publicity to get as many people as possible to recognise something about what happened that day. It can give the impression that there's a wave of kiddie snatchers sweeping the country when really it's no better or worse, just better reported.
posted by vbfg at 4:17 AM on August 17, 2002


Nailing one foot to the floor works pretty well, but they do tend to wear a circle in the carpet as a result.

there has been a drastic decline in children's outdoor activity and unsupervised play [...] Parents feel that children are more at risk today [...] in reality children have never been safer.

Child abduction or murder by a stranger is remarkably rare and occurrence rates have remained largely unchanged for the past 50 years. In the UK, there are on average seven deaths and 60 abductions a year (5). Considering that there are over 12million children in the UK, the chances of such a dreadful fate befalling a child are remote.

Quotes from this article.

Also, in their current issue: The ghoulish obsession with two missing girls shows the UK media at its worst..
posted by andrew cooke at 4:28 AM on August 17, 2002


you mean protect them from being held for 72 hours without charging them, right?
posted by jcterminal at 4:31 AM on August 17, 2002


and ha ha on spoon being caught in a lie.
posted by jcterminal at 4:33 AM on August 17, 2002


this kind of thing happens all the time -- spoon

That myth is dispelled by andrew cooke's post above.
posted by stbalbach at 5:09 AM on August 17, 2002


Hey

I'm an ex-pat New Yorker, living in London for the past five years.

Yep, the media is really beating this to death. For me probably the most repulsive thing about this (after the actual abduction, that is), is some of the assinine questions tossed by folks - who should know better - at the parents.

For example, yesterday the family had a press conference, and some idiot asked one of the mothers "How do you feel?"

Come on.

The pain in that womens eyes - if she'd leaped over the table and choked that journalist to death, Homer Simpson style, I would not have faulted her at all. Hell, if I was there I'd probably have joined in.

Anyway, I just wanted to add this: I live in E1, Londons East End. I'm an Investment Banker who was "made redundant" (fired in 'Merican English) June 1st, so I'm home all day.

My backyard looks out onto some parkland, and every day there are about twenty or so kids out playing. Same group of kids, everyday, all summer long.

Haven't seen any sign of a drastic decline in children's outdoor activity and unsupervised play.

If anything, due to the media hype I find myself thinking where are their parents?

Then I pause for a moment and my higher brain functions take over. As someone else pointed out, this is very rare, and the media attention is way out of proportion.
posted by Mutant at 5:13 AM on August 17, 2002


As a Dad of four (two boys, two girls) and having had the experience of losing one of them in a shopping centre for 45 minutes (the longest 45 minutes I think I've lived) I can certainly attest that the idea of a shopping centre "lock down" as so far away from the truth it may as well be orbiting Neptune. Anyway. That's beside the point, as the story is blatantly false.

No laws can protect our kids from people determined to do them harm.
posted by chrimble at 5:14 AM on August 17, 2002


Nobody said it was a lie, btw. I've been caught out by urban myths before, and I'm the most paranoid person on earth about preventing their propagation. It's not malicious, it's just the nature of the memetic beast.

The hardest statistics I can find on child abductions (in the UK) are hidden away in this document (Appendix 1, Table 6.03). They do seem to indicate an increase over the last few years: 583 cases of child abduction in 2000/2001, compared to 191 in 1991. They don't differentiate between stranger abductions and abductions by a family member, though. Elsewhere on the Net, I'm seeing references to 90-95% of abductions being the latter, with family fights being the growth area. So that 60 a year figure seems fair.

For comparison, there were 858 murders in the same period, and 371 deaths by dangerous driving.

Given the furore over the last few cases, I'm left wondering what would happen if the others were reported with the same ferocity. A child abduction story every week would drive people *insane* with worry.
posted by ntk at 5:23 AM on August 17, 2002


not at all.
posted by Spoon at 5:23 AM on August 17, 2002


Put them all in little bouncy rubber balls with some holes in them to get oxygen. So in case they run out on the street they will just bounce off the car. Next, is to install at birth a transponder that sends a signal to the GPS station that monitors all kids. So if on the next shopping trip when they wander off, you can call the 800 number to let them know where they are in relation to your location. Next make a law subjecting those kidnappers to a $100 trillion dollar fine and years in prison, with maybe an execution thrown in. Maybe a "Pre Crime" unit so these abductions won't take place like murders. Just some suggestions to answer the crazy notion, that there really is one ultimate answer off in the unvierse that will save all children and keep them safe. Hey, guess what, accidents/tragedies/injuries/stupid people/random events etc. happen, so stop worrying so much.
posted by brent at 6:07 AM on August 17, 2002


"...this kind of thing happens all the time." That's just pure hysteria. That kind of thing doesn't happen all the time. In the US, at least, child abductions have decreased, and most of them involve family members.

I remember this same wave of hysteria about 15 years ago. The pattern was exactly the same -- excessive media coverage, propagation of half-truths, lies, urban legends, and the totally unnecessary fear that gripped parents all over the country.

I note that the article about the detainment of the suspects is heavily slanted toward a presupposition of their guilt. Yellow journalism is alive and well, in the UK as well as the US.
posted by gordian knot at 6:12 AM on August 17, 2002


This story has been driving me bonkers too.

EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR THE LAST WEEK it's been the main headline! 'Girls still missing', 'Abductors given 'deadline' to give girls back' (never understood that one!), and so on. I'm glad something is finally happening. I don't remember Amanda Dowler getting this much coverage, and she's still missing. I guess it's some news during the slow season though.

When Sky News interviewed that woman (on the right in the main link) she never looked the reporter in the eye and kept her head down and flicked her eyes from side to side. I was saying 'IT'S HER! IT'S HER!' two days ago, lol, and it turns out I might be right!

So much for the Sun being the home of robust common sense...

You don't know how hilarious that comment is to someone who has read The Sun for years. The Sun is a joke. It's not really a 'newspaper' anyway, it's a comic. Its political bias sways constantly, with it supporting one party at one election, and the opposite party at the next. The columnists are a joke, and the whole paper is just designed to entertain, rather than inform.
posted by wackybrit at 6:40 AM on August 17, 2002


Breaking news: Two bodies found in Suffolk
posted by wackybrit at 7:33 AM on August 17, 2002


Anyone remember the video game Lemmings? Survival of the fittest. Quit trying to protect children. If your child doesn't survive childhood, he wasn't meant to. What doesn't kill him will make him stronger. "How can we protect our Children?" YOU don't. You educate your child so he's smarter than the average bear, then you set him loose on the world and hope both your child & the world survive the repercussions of such exposure to one another.

There will always be predators. That cannot be policed. Kill all the hyenas & lions in an African ecosystem and watch the entropy. You protect your child by teaching your child to protect himself, so he can live without your protection. Honestly. This is not rocket science. Overprotective parents are not thinking straight.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:41 AM on August 17, 2002


ZachsMind: I can't even begin to respond to your tirade of heartless and thoughtless venom. It's clearly spewed from the mouth of someone who has never had children. There's plenty to do to protect children that doesn't involve legislation or infringing upon your rights, unless of course you are an active member of something like NAMBLA.

Your argument is like saying that swimming pools don't need fences and children who fall in were meant to die. It argues that one shouldn't intervene if a child is running into the street or climbing a high tension tower. "Oh, they're just evolving the species." Surely, you're not so self absorbed as to not intervene if you saw a crime in progress. Surely you can't mean that parents deserve their grief because their children were overpowered by larger attackers and they didn't teach them the skills and discipline to use judo effectively. I've read your comments about ten times and you still come across as at best half-baked and at worse the kind of person who children should be protected from.

How can we protect our children? By being good attentive parents and teaching our children to avoid trouble. Beyond that, draconian penalties for predators makes a high degree of sense as killing a child robs society of unmeasurable potential. Maybe we're doing all we can right now, but declaring it evolutionary that childlren be kidnapped and murdered is assanine.
posted by shagoth at 7:54 AM on August 17, 2002


Fear titillates. In the absence of meaningful activity to occupy our time, our minds, our lives, we will continue to latch onto each new "scare tactic of the week" in order to have our emotions stirred, remind us that we are alive and capable of feeling, and reinforce our conviction that it's because the world is a big, bad, scary place that we fail on so many fronts, and that it's therefore through no fault of our own and we can evade responsibility. Disease! Sharks! Terrorists! Evil foreigners! Greedy corporate robber barons! Child predators! Run! Hide! Be afraid! Don't think!
posted by rushmc at 8:03 AM on August 17, 2002


Overprotective parents are not thinking straight.

As I'm part of a child-free relationship I can't comment on what parents think, but it's striking the change that every couple we know seems to go through when they have children. I guess (no wishing to disparage it, particularly, just explain) there's a strong evolutionary bias for anything that protects your gene carriers.

I once read somewhere that being in love involves changes in brain chemistry that are similar to those seen in addicts (or some other group generally labelled as "not normal") - I would guess something similar happens to parents (of course, from their point of view, this is a normal process that we, abnormally, are not experiencing).
posted by andrew cooke at 8:26 AM on August 17, 2002


andrew cooke – a friend of mine (who also has kids) insists that the difference between those of us who do and those of us who don’t is bigger than that between the races. Short answer to your question: A newborn baby is completely dependent on you. Being responsible for somebody else tends to reorient things a bit.

And ZachsMind -- if decimation of fledglings is what hones us as a species, wouldn’t we have clutches of offspring, instead of only one or two at a time?

And: What 1-3 year old can really hope to protect his or herself from a larger predator? Or 3-9 year old for that matter? Evolutionarily speaking, we traded off big ass brains for weak infants. This is why humans (and other animals) have developed the parenting strategies that we have (and also why altruism is regarded as a survival trait, BTW.) Part of the survival equation is how good of a parent you are -- how well an individual goes about ensuring that his offspring thrives. All human offspring are completely dependent on parental protection. What, do you think in the past we just pushed them out of the cave and let them fend for themselves after they were born? Suggest you watch Discovery Channel a bit -- I think you will find parental protection occurs in many species.

I’m not disputing generalized disgust with the media and public hysteria over cases like this, or arguing for overprotective paranoia by parents – but those comments were over the top.
posted by Kneebiter at 8:39 AM on August 17, 2002


spoon: what are you responding to with "not at all" & "certain"? a lot of your posts in this thread seem to be unfounded assertion, not argument, as you don't offer links or other evidence in support of your opinions, whereas others have offered contradictory information - which you choose to ignore. I can understand this - i'm a parent too.

spoon to ntk/dhartung: That is not the point of this thread. Whether or not you choose to believe me (and I don't care if you do or not) - children get abducted too often - this kind of thing happens all the time.
well, it is the point really: if someone said to me that voracious green monsters, or olive-skinned mediterraneans with a different religion to me murdered and drank my baby's blood, part of my response would be to rationally and critically examine the known facts.
its not helpful - if our aim is to reduce the incidence of abductions - to parents, protection agencies, the police, etc, for unfounded suspicions and anxieties to be fed this way...there be monsters indeed.

On the other hand, when adults known to the victims (janitors, babysitters, youth workers, et al) abuse their positions of trust (acquired, no doubt, after the usual background checks throw up no suspicious leads) then there is only so much that carers can do. From the beginning, even the way we talk to our infants, toddlers and kids can lead to a routine of expectation: so a young child can know - by tone of voice, repeated prior experiences, etc - what comes next and if it fits into a pattern acceptable to him/her. Properly trained in protective measures, a child can resist, alert, report and prevent some abuse. We cannot worry* about all things to come, but some preventative actions on our part can allay our fears and protect kids without a culture of terror enveloping us all.

As ever, education, information and safety routines will do more good than public hysteria. My advice to you - as a parental educator, child protection worker and dad - would be to see if you can research a little bit into parent/child education, for example:
surestart
kidscape
childadvocacy.com

(*defined as unnecessary or excessive fear over future possible events)

Ps: babyblog is hilarious! and well-written. thanks for the effort you put into it.
posted by dash_slot- at 8:43 AM on August 17, 2002


Shagoth: "I can't even begin to respond to your tirade of heartless and thoughtless venom."

You just did.

"It's clearly spewed from the mouth of someone who has never had children."

I am sick and tired of that argument:

"Do you have children?" No. "Then you have no right to have an opinion about how I raise mine! Shut your hole." BITE me. I've observed enough in my life to know what others are doing right and wrong raising their own kids. I don't have to prove my manhood to have an opinion in how children are raised.

Whether you like Hillary Clinton or not, her writing staff did get one thing right: It does take a community to raise a child. My taxes go to help raise other people's children. YOUR children are OUR future. MY future. I have more than just a right to speak my mind on the topic -- I have a duty. And so do you.

"Surely you can't mean that parents deserve their grief because their children were overpowered by larger attackers and they didn't teach them the skills and discipline to use judo effectively. "

No one deserves grief. It happens. Bad things shouldn't happen to good people, but they do. No amount of making the world a better place for children is going to keep that from happening.

I have a friend who put his child in for karate lessons at a very early age, and started taking the classes himself in order to be with his son more. Now both he and his son are brown belts last I talked to him about this. He's having to lay off practicing with his son not because he's got no time but because his 10 year old son is so good at martial arts, he can actually harm his father when they're sparring. I'd call that a success story. Admittedly, the kid now needs to work more on control, but you get what I mean. It is possible to train young people to defend themselves. It's just not easy. I think far too many parents look for the easy solution.

If one raises their children properly, they shouldn't have to intervene when their child climbs up on a high tension wire. When a child climbs a high tension wire, it's a subtle hint to the parent that perhaps they should educate their children more on why only trained professionals paid by the energy companies climb high tension wires. Further, the young person is showing an interest in an activity that could be redirected into a safer avenue and perhaps someday a vocation. Rather than just saying no, a climbing child could be redirected to learn how to safely explore his intrinsic interests.

When I was a kid I had "look both ways before crossing a street" grilled into me until I wanted to scream at any adult who said it. However, I'm still here aren't I? There's many young people in my neighborhood today who need that obnoxious phrase grilled into them.

How can you protect your children? By being good attentive parents and teaching your children to avoid trouble, or respond to it confidently and with success when it cannot be avoided. Predators are inevitable. Teach children well, so that they will not become a statistic.

Oh. and you misspelled asinine, but why nitpick? =)
posted by ZachsMind at 8:52 AM on August 17, 2002


Being responsible for somebody else tends to reorient things a bit.

I may not be the best person to assess these things independently. I believe (how obvious are these things?) that one reason I have no desire for children is that I am disturbed by my parents' attitude towards me.

Just two days ago I wrote a long email back home trying to explain why my sister was having a wedding ceremony to which my parents (nor anyone else except two close friends of groom and bride) were not invited. In retrospect it was pretty pointless - I'm sure I spent much longer writing my attempted analysis of the relationship between people and society, isolation, postmodernism, yadder yadder than they spent trying to understand it. Instead, they'll just fall back on this dark, subconscious reflex that, apparently, assigns them moral ownership of their offspring... (and I'm 35!)
posted by andrew cooke at 8:55 AM on August 17, 2002


kneebiter: "And ZachsMind -- if decimation of fledglings is what hones us as a species, wouldn't we have clutches of offspring, instead of only one or two at a time?"

There's no law in evolution that insists only multi-birth species get honed down. If memory serves, more than one foal or calf is a rarity, yet deer, cattle, moose, and other wild beasts of that level get "honed" or "decimated" by predators just as much as other animals. It's a part of the cycle of life. There are ways to increase your child's chances of not being a statistic, but we humans are subject to the laws of Darwin just like any other creature on this Earth, and unfortunately our own worst predator is our own kind.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:01 AM on August 17, 2002


One in five children in the United Kingdom lives in poverty. A full days' meal for many of them is toast, beans, and rice pudding. They live in decrepit tenements, perform very poorly in school, and are destined to live as impoverished adults -- if they grow up: death rates are tragically high among the poverty class.

But, hey, it's so common that it doesn't get the headlines. The one-in-a-million chance of abduction is eversomuch more exciting than the one-in-five chance of starving.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:08 AM on August 17, 2002


One additional thing to note: unlike the Millie Dowler case, this happened in rural Cambridgeshire, where you have a local police force that's unused to big investigations, and the media circus associated with them; I've certainly felt that the tabloids have at times been dictating the course of the investigation to the police than the other way around. (Perhaps because it's silly season and the less idiotic writers are on holiday, or because the tabs have been taking their cues from the US abduction hysteria, judging from some of the copy.)

Amid the headlines, it's hard to reiterate the sad, well-worn truths that most child abductions and murders are commited by parents and close relatives. (ntk: I remember the Grauniad recently covered some of the 'other children' in its Saturday magazine to commemorate the anniversary of Sarah Payne's abduction and murder.)

A case ends, it seems, after a village meeting in the local school, where the police tell people to look 'close to home', and with the arrest of the last people recorded as seeing the missing girls. It's almost the territory of Agatha Christie (or worse, Midsomer Murders). And all the column inches devoted to talk of regulating internet paedophiles seem very beside the point.
posted by riviera at 9:22 AM on August 17, 2002


ZachsMind -- Agreed. But didn't mean to imply homo s. aren't subject to selection, just pointing out differences in survival strategies, i.e., fewer, more dependent offspring that require lots of parenting vs. lots of more independent offspring with lots of baby turtles gobbled up and a few others making it. Both a response to selection. Apologies for offtopic drift here...
posted by Kneebiter at 9:55 AM on August 17, 2002


One in five children in the United Kingdom lives in poverty. A full days' meal for many of them is toast, beans, and rice pudding. They live in decrepit tenements, perform very poorly in school, and are destined to live as impoverished adults -- if they grow up: death rates are tragically high among the poverty class.

You can make your statistics sound even better if you said.. 'Four in five children in the United Kingdom (except Southern England)'

Flippancy aside, I think you're over-dramatizing. All kids get a school dinner if they want one. In fact, our socialist system even gives kids from poor families free school meals!

And high death rates? Jeez, these aren't the times of Dickens you know. Only one person died in any of my schools the whole time I was in education. There's hardly a 'high death rate' in children.
posted by wackybrit at 11:50 AM on August 17, 2002


I apologise for the urban myth - one which I had not heard before and after a few questions to my friend - who is at best a long distance friend - it turns out that he heard it from someone else and so on... blah-de-blah more research next time etc etc.

Zachsmind - ................... -

I am still saddened by the sobering thought that one day your child (and zach - I don't know if you have any children but I hope you never do - for their sake) could go out and never come back and there would be NOTHING you could do about it.
posted by Spoon at 1:30 PM on August 17, 2002


BITE me. I've observed enough in my life to know what others are doing right and wrong raising their own kids. I don't have to prove my manhood to have an opinion in how children are raised.

OK Zachsmind, I'll bite. Observation and experience are entirely separate things. I take parenting advice from the childless as I would take marital advice from a priest. The advice is often well-intended, just not thoroughly researched.
posted by whatnot at 2:42 PM on August 17, 2002


Spoon, I am saddened by your typing out words which make no sense. I discern an interpretation of your intended communique but not its literal meaning, and I accept full responsibility for my inability to read your mind.

Whatnot, depending on the priest, your statement is not wholly accurate. Many priests have both formal and informal training in regards to marriage counseling. If memory serves, orthodox catholic marriages require some priest counseling prior to the wedding mass. Also, a wise man of the cloth actively learns more about anything which may affect members of his congregation. Some priests educate themselves better than others.

Saying I can't have an opinion about child rearing is like insisting only politicians can post to any MeFi thread involving politics. It's a silly argument and I tire of politely giving it credence.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:57 PM on August 17, 2002


Many priests have both formal and informal training in regards to marriage counseling. If memory serves, orthodox catholic marriages require some priest counseling prior to the wedding mass.

Training does not equal experience.

Saying I can't have an opinion about child rearing is like insisting only politicians can post to any MeFi thread involving politics.

I'm not saying you can't have an opinion, I'm just saying I will take it with a grain of salt. I have more respect for the opinions of those with experience, and the utmost respect for parents who have raised healthy, happy, productive members of society.

It's a silly argument and I tire of politely giving it credence.

That's just downright arrogant. I like you, but I don't care to look up your nostrils, thanks.
posted by whatnot at 3:36 PM on August 17, 2002


Riviera: "Perhaps because it's silly season and the less idiotic writers are on holiday"

Am I right in thinking that the only reason this story got the vastly extended press coverage it did is because it's the height of summer (apparently) and not a lot of "newsworthy" stories happen? I remember reading an article in The Times about how thousands of people go missing in the UK every year, many of them young and most of them never to be seen again. The article was in relation to missing Milly, and explained that this story in particular was picked up because she was (is) young, pretty, female and wearing a school uniform, ie a victim.


Also, the following was posted to (bizarrely) uk.games.video.dreamcast before the bodies had even been found:

"Quite frankly, all these dirty cunts deserve is a fucking good kicking. I
reckon that every time some children go missing, and they suspect it has
been an abduction, EVERY single paedophile that is currently locked up
should get 3 beatings a day until the children are found."


Is this indicative of the tabloid-fed reactionary populous of the UK? Or is it just Chris Morris in disguise?
posted by hnnrs at 3:36 PM on August 17, 2002


Well, the news management of the Millie Dowler thing is a whole case in itself, and I'm sure Morris feels vindicated by it. (The press has spent most of the time backing away from the early reports, that seemed to emphasise how she appeared a lot older than 13. In short, they came across in their coverage as the equivalent of dirty old men.)
posted by riviera at 4:51 PM on August 17, 2002


So, whatnot, what makes you an expert in parenting? Unless you've raised a dozen children with vastly different personalities, I daresay everything you have to say about parenting is based on a grossly invalid sample size.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:19 PM on August 17, 2002


When Sky News interviewed that woman (on the right in the main link) she never looked the reporter in the eye and kept her head down and flicked her eyes from side to side.
My own experience has been that people obsessed with eye contact are the biggest lying bags of bull crap on the planet. Hence their use of the deceptive trick of using eye contact to fool people into believing them. Show me a con man who doesn't lock eyes.
posted by HTuttle at 7:11 PM on August 17, 2002


I think the ubiquitous computing revolution will come about because parents want to keep tabs on their kids (lest they be snatched) and communicate with them.

Anyone know of electronics manufacturers working on this kind of stuff? (I'm thinking of walkie talkies on steroids).
posted by beth at 8:38 PM on August 17, 2002


Er, yah, beth. Just saw a web page the other day re: a GPS+PCS cell xmitter combo. Can't remember the name, alas. :-(
posted by five fresh fish at 8:53 PM on August 17, 2002


Anyone know of electronics manufacturers working on this kind of stuff? (I'm thinking of walkie talkies on steroids).

Most kids in the UK carry cellphones now. The police were hoping the abductor(s) would be stupid enough to turn the kid's one on, as then they could locate them.
posted by wackybrit at 4:52 AM on August 18, 2002


One in five children in the United Kingdom lives in poverty. A full days' meal for many of them is toast, beans, and rice pudding. They live in decrepit tenements, perform very poorly in school, and are destined to live as impoverished adults -- if they grow up: death rates are tragically high among the poverty class.

??????!!!!!!!!!!!!. I have no words.
posted by Summer at 6:09 AM on August 18, 2002


"Quit trying to protect children. If your child doesn't survive childhood, he wasn't meant to." Zachsmind


Mrs. Zachsmind: "Darling, have you seen little zachsmind anywhere?"

Zachsmind: "Oh - sorry - didn't I say? He drowned in the river"

Mrs. Zachsmind: "OH NO! Couldn't you do anything to save him?"

Zachsmind: "Nah - couldn't be arsed. If he's dead then its his own fault."

Mrs. Zachsmind: "Oh dear - that's a shame - still - we have another child"

Zachsmind: "Well - he has to learn that its the survival of the fittest round these parts"

etc etc.

stupid boy.
posted by Spoon at 8:11 AM on August 18, 2002


Summer: here and here and ... well, actually, I'm sure you can google-search it just as well as I. Have fun.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:56 AM on August 18, 2002


FFF - there doesn't seem to be anything to support what you said in the first link and the second isn't loading for me. I googled under 'baked beans' and 'rice pudding' but was unble to come up with any reliable statistics.
posted by Summer at 10:15 AM on August 18, 2002


Spoon: Hahaha, that's funny. I mean, you think Zachsmind is going to get married?
posted by wackybrit at 4:38 PM on August 18, 2002


Dude! ZachsMind already got married. Thank God we didn't have kids. The divorce woulda been brutal:

"You take him."
"No you take him!"
"I said it first!"
"Yeah I'll just go get a better lawyer then."
"It's your turn! I was the one who carried him around in my womb for eight months!"
"Well that wasn't my idea!"


You get the picture. It's bad enough she stuck me with her pet chihuahua. Look! He's humping the furniture again.. stupid dog.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:46 PM on August 18, 2002


How weird, Summer. Here it is from the Google cache: "UNITED KINGDOM: 20% Of Children Live In Poverty -- UNICEF Report
The United Kingdom has one of the worst records on childhood poverty in the industrialized world, according to a UNICEF study to be released tomorrow.
Nearly 20% of young people live below the poverty line, the report says, noting that the UK fails on five key indicators of childhood poverty. The childhood poverty rate is high, as is the number of single parents in poverty, the number of jobless households and the number who have low wages or have low benefits.
Of 19 countries surveyed, the United Kingdom came in 14th, just above Italy and below such countries as Hungary, Turkey and Poland. By contrast, Sweden, Norway and Finland have rates of child poverty below 5%.
According to interviews with families by the London Observer, children are eating main meals consisting of toast, beans and rice pudding. Poor nutrition leads to poor performance at school and health problems, the newspaper reports. Many children live in homes with moisture running down the walls and inadequate heating, it adds. It is estimated that the UK will need to spend more than $15 billion to eradicate the problem.
"It is a question this country must face," said David Piachaud, an expert in childhood poverty at the London School of Economics. "Do we want another generation of children who are brought up in poverty, who have worse health, worse education, worse housing and deficient lifetime prospects?" he asked.
According to the Observer, UK Chancellor Gordon Brown is preparing to introduce new measures to address the problem, including an early childhood program and a fund for youth up to age 19 (Kamal Ahmed, London Observer, 11 Jun).
While the UNICEF report praises measures introduced to alleviate child poverty by 2020, saying they will cut the poverty rate by one-third and lift 1 million children out of poverty, it also warns that one-third of Britain's children will remain in poverty even if everyone who is eligible to work finds a job. "Many children will continue to depend on state benefits that currently leave them well below the poverty line," it adds (Nicholas Timmins, Financial Times, 12 Jun).
Source : UN Wire. June 13, 2000"
posted by five fresh fish at 7:08 PM on August 18, 2002


The poverty line is drawn too low though.

You can bring up kids to be healthy on an extremely shoe-string budget. Except, you have to quit buying spaghetti bolognaise and Cadbury's Dairy Milk at Sainsbury's and instead stock up on muesli and German chocolate at LIDL.

Of course, compounding the problem is that the poorest folk often don't have cars, so can't reach the cheaper out-of-town stores.. forcing them to use small inner-city stores that have high prices.
posted by wackybrit at 2:38 AM on August 19, 2002


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