Will the Isabel Celis abduction ruin your kid’s childhood?by Don Lacey on May. 29, 2012, under Arizona Families, Critical Thinking, Education, History, Logic, Question of the Day!, Sanity, Terrorism, That's Life!
This post from Jim Wilson highlights unintended consequences:
“Mama’s gonna make all of your nightmares come true. Mama’s gonna put all her fears into you.
Mama’s gonna keep you right here under her wing. She won’t let you fly but she might let you sing.
Mama’s gonna keep baby cozy and warm… Of course, mama’s gonna help build the wall.”
-Pink Floyd Mother
In 1982 a 12 year old Des Moines Iowa paperboy named Johnny Gosch disappeared. The case got enormous attention and caused quite a stir. Further interest in Gosch sprang up years later after his mother claimed to have been visited by the boy in 1999. She insists he is now living under a false identity out of fear for his life. His father questions whether this visit actually occurred at all. The case pushed the issue of child abduction into the national limelight in much the same way the Isabel Celis case here in Tucson. The Gocsh case led to the passing of The Johnny Gosch Bill which mandates immediate police response to calls about missing children in Iowa. There are similar bills in eight other states. He has been missing for over 29 years and for many people his mop-topped face will always be the face of the cause of missing children.
Though I did not live in the midwest at the time the Johnny Gosch affair gained regional and ultimately national prominence, I have many good friends who did. They will gladly testify to seeing dollar bills scribbled with “Help me! – Johnny Gosch.” They recall the overall hysteria that gripped many parents at the time. Multiple friends of mine who were young during the eighties are happy to relay stories albeit rather self-centered ones about how the Johnny Gocsh case single handedly ruined their childhood. Here is a typical response:
“Yeah my parents wouldn’t let me do anything after that little S.O.B. Johnny Gocsh disappeared. No more meeting friends after school, hanging out in public places, or doing anything at all without supervision. Staying at friends houses they would constantly call to check up on us to the point of nuisance.”
Furthermore, this over-cautiousness extended to other areas of life. Parents were less willing to let their kids do things like: ride all-terrain vehicles or play high-contact sports. The whole stranger-danger paradigm really took off at this time and it instilled an irrational fear and suspicion of all persons children did not know. Saying this ruined the kid’s childhood is over the top but it certainly did have a negative impact and it did breed resentment.
I see potential for a lot of this to happen here in the southwest with the case of Isabel Celis. The missing six year old has been gone for a little over a month now. What happened to her is tragic and horrifying and I hope the people responsible for her disappearance are caught soon and severely punished but she shouldn’t be made into a cautionary tale that today’s school children will still resent decades latter. It’s is not right to scare every young child by telling them they better be careful or they will end up like Isabel Celis. Apparently this was a common practice with Johnny Gosch. Being protective of one’s children is a good thing as is teaching them to be aware of danger and how to protect themselves. However, at some level it is over doing it.
Childhood should be a time in which children should enjoy themselves. It is one of the few times we do not have the stresses and pressures of adult life to worry about. Why ruin with over-protectiveness and parental fear-mongering? No one likes living an over-sheltered life. I know many adults that would be much more well-rounded people if they had gotten out a little more when they were younger.
We shouldn’t give up all reasonable precaution. Keep in mind that the likelihood of your child being abducted by a stranger is far less likely than your child being abducted by someone he or she knows. Maybe now is a good time to put GPS units on our kids or maybe there is some other solution. I’m sure there is also a line between what is and is not the appropriate level of protectiveness and maybe our readers can tell us what this is. Also if you have stories of parental fear-mongering feel free to share too.