Keeping Our Children Safe

I never felt unsafe as a child and I do remember doing Duck and Cover drills under my desk at school during the Cuban Missile crisis part of the Cold War.  My parents always lived in safe neighborhoods and I don’t remember that much crime being close by me, so I guess I was blessed.  For a good portion of my life, I lived in South Plainfield, New Jersey and I always felt safe there.  Plainfield, the city just north of me had riots in 1967 and it was just one of 159 race riots that swept cities in the United States that year.  This riot was a series of racially charged violent disturbances that occurred in Plainfield, and it mirrored the bigger riots that took place in Newark.  A fight broke out at a local diner, The White Star and the next night outside agitators came into Plainfield to provoke more violence.  Rioting and looting occurred and Molotov cocktails were thrown at fire trucks responding to calls, but the police got a break when a heavy rain dispersed the crowd.

Members of the Pagans a white motorcycle gang entered the area and confronted a large group of young black men.  Police Officer John Gleason placed himself between the two groups and two members of the mob beat him with a steel grocery store cart, kicked and stomped and eventually shot and killed with his own service revolver.  My parents warned me to stay out of Plainfield and I was always cautious when I went there.  A few years later, I got a job working at Great Eastern, a department store on Route 22 in North Plainfield.  I became good friends with a black kid who worked in my department and I gave him a ride home several times.  He used to tell me not to stop the car, that he would jump out while it was still rolling and he was even afraid to be in Plainfield at night.

One time my house did get robbed by some one or a group of thieves that broke into it in the day time, gaining access by breaking the back window.  There were woods behind our house and that must be the way they approached, as none of the neighbors noticed anything unusual when they were interviewed by the police.  We had a dog and I was the first one home that day and I heard the dog barking and he was shut into a downstairs room, which was peculiar.  I saw the broken window on the back door, but I never put two and two together and I was clueless that we had been burglarized.  I had to get a hair cut that day, as my parents were on my case about it being too long, so I rushed out to do that after I walked the dog.  When I got back from the barber shop, I saw two police cars at my house.

My parents always kept me safe, but things were different back in the day.  Sure, there were pictures of missing children on milk bottles, but none of them lived near me.  I did live in Milwaukee when I was young, but that was way before Jeffery Dahmer was killing people and eating them.  The kids today have lived through a pandemic which has changed the whole world and I am sure that many of them will take a long time to process this.  Hey, whatever doesn’t kill you is supposed to make you stronger, so there may be a whole generation of fighters out there now.

Written for Reena’s Exploration Challenge #187 quote prompt, “We don’t need you to make us feel safe, because you made us feel brave.”

21 thoughts on “Keeping Our Children Safe

  1. People are scared of the things with super low odds, like getting abducted by a stranger, but in fact it’s family members who are more likely to hurt or molest a child. Car accidents, pools, and sports are much more likely to injure a child than stranger danger. The leading cause of death for adults is still heart disease not anything exotic…

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  2. People believe in the threats the confirm their world view. If you think the world is full of child molesters, murderers. and rapists, it doesn’t matter whether its one in a thousand or one in ten. You’ll believe the same thing.

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  3. My mother told me how she had to be evacuated with many other children during the second World War. I can’t imagine how scared the kids (as well as adults) must have been during that war.

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  4. It’s very important for kids to feel safe. We try to protect them from harm, but then some do wrap them in cotton wool that they are afraid to venture out on their own.

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  5. My father had a retail store in Washington, DC that was looted and burned to the ground during the riots after the assassination of Martin Luther King. Before that I felt fairly safe going into DC, but it took quite a few years before I began to feel comfortable going into the city. About 8 years later, though, I bought a row house in the city.

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  6. I’ve read all the comments and your interesting peep into your history, and I feel really grateful to have been raised in a relatively sleepy little place. Utah was fairly insulated I guess. Salt Lake City was small until the 2002 Olympic games, but there were some instances of violence and there were murderers who hit the headlines before that. I never felt afraid to walk around downtown Salt Lake City as a young woman though. I never met any ethnic folks until I was a young woman. There was one that I ever met. Now of course Salt Lake City is a huge sprawling metropolis with the attendant violence and unrest. There was a riot sometime in the late 2000s, and another more recently, but it was still a fairly small event. The world in general has gotten a lot more dangerous, Jim, in my opinion. I suppose that’s perspective on my part, but it’s also fact. Who makes up the horrible ‘news’ stories that clog the internet and airways? If they are making up the mass shootings at schools, and the riots and murders that are rife, someone has a really sick imagination.

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    1. Fake news exists and it is becoming more of an issue every day. Everyone has to learn how to separate fact from fiction, so you have to check the source to see if they are digging up the truth or uncovering something for their own interests. Fake news wants to feed your hopes, fears and biases, so use your common sense. Stories that are not true are designed to make people believe something that gets them riled up, so they will take action, or make them buy a certain product, or go to another website.

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