The couple in question, probably are the only two people in the world who might see this as a heartless reprimand. They were the parents of Leiby Kletzky. Yes I said "they were" but I suppose even though Leiby is now gone, they are still and forever will remain his loving and grieving parents. On Monday evening, Leiby Kletzky was abducted by
As I heard reported on 1010 WINS yesterday, Leiby's parents even had taken the precaution of showing him the way to get home. My guess would be that somewhere in his upbringing they also told him about strangers as virtually all parents tell their children. They apparently did it all the right way. They just never expected that a monster would meet their child in a moment of weakness, that everything would just lead their child the wrong way into a mosnter's hands. That moment, the one when things started to go wrong for Leiby, came shortly after Leiby missed a turn in the route to his home. He continued straight and soon was lost. It is believed that he then saw
The man who is the monster has been captured. He was arrested in the early morning hours on Wednesday. Police, acted quickly and had overwhelming help from the community. All of us should be so good at getting together to assist one another as were these people in their search for Leiby. Yet, they were all too late no matter how much they tried to help. Now they will feel guilt, they will feel helpless just as will Leiby's parents but nowhere nearly as much.
Leiby is gone but thankfully they have caught the
You cannot leash your children, you cannot keep them imprisoned in your homes safe and sound and innocent forever. Sooner or later you need to start to give them some freedom, some autonomy, some responsibility to do things for themselves. You cannot know they will begin to do it right, you cannot overly worry they will do it wrong. You cannot be there, holding their hands to guide them if they start to go wrong or it would not be autonomous. You need to give them some freedom and as a parent I can tell you that you can never know with certainty if they are ready for it; you always take a chance when your child is given that responsibility. So teach them, and teach them as well as you can, o never approach a single stranger or go with a stranger , or get near a stranger's car. Teach them even more so about which strangers are safer. Teach them whom to approach if ever in trouble. Teach them who would be the safer bet, as it were, from whom to seek help if they need an adult. Tell them to virtually never to stop or approach a single stranger in a car unless it is a marked police car or firetruck. Teach them that if they ever get lost, as did poor little Leiby Kletzky, they need to walk into a store or other business, one in which they see plenty of workers and customers, and then announce in a loud voice - "Can you help me please, I am lost", or "I am hurt", or "my mom is outside and is sick", or whatever is the emergency that is making them seek the help of strangers. Tell them to look for a police officer and to yell for help as loud as he or she can to get the officer's attention, to get everyones attenion. Then, pray and hope that they have learned well if ever put to the task. You can even test them, have someone, a very trusted someone, follow and observe your child the first time or two that he or she does something like this alone - or do it yourself but don't let your child see you. This was the very first time that Leiby had been given permission to walk home by himself - fate can be a terrible thing - monsters come when least expected and without regard for innocence.
Perhaps Leiby's parents did all of those things, except apparently for following him to observe him his first time. Maybe they could not, maybe they did not think of it, maybe they just figured - since they had shown him the route - that he would get it right. They, or at least one of them, took him over the route last week on Friday. My guess is that they did everything else and that they knew their son was ready. They seemingly did it right. They probably did more than enough. There is no way they can be blamed for the actions of a monster. I do not fault them, not one bit, but you can bet they will fault themselves, they will do that for the rest of their lives.
They did not do their child a wrong. They did what parents do everywhere. They let their child start to grow up. They could not have known that something as innocent as a child not making a turn would have led their son directly to a monster, especially not in a pretty safe and closely knit neighborhood as is theirs. It was and is not their fault - a monster was among us. A monster pretending to be a helpful and friendly man is seemingly the one who did the evil deed. He was at the same exact spot, at the same exact same moment, as was a lost little boy who needed and then sought help. He needed help and was probably scared and he saw what he thought was a friendly, safe, caring trusful adult. He never expected to meet a monster pretending to be just that type of a man, the type that could fool even adults into believing he was there to help. Leiby's parents never could have actually expected it either; they never would have let him go it alone had they thought it, even for a moment. Pray for Leiby and for his parents, no matter what your faith. If you are not religious, keep them in your thoughts and well wishes.
Teach your children but don't try to keep them sheltered as children forever. Sooner or later they have to start to do things on their own, teach them well not only how to seek help but how to fight back if need be and how to get away (since I originally wrote this, the police have surmised, becasue of scratches on the suspected killer's arms, that little Leiby fought back). Do one other thing too, demand that your politicians and legal authorities implement the death penalty for monsters - the world will be a better place with even one fewer of them and our children would be so much safer too.