We live in a fairly quiet, residential part of London. Nice streets with attractive mansion blocks, a few local cafes, delis and shops, friendly faces and a couple of great green spaces to enjoy. It's a really good family area too. Whilst being in London and less than 20 minutes away from some of the major city sites, there's a nice relaxed atmosphere in our neighbourhood and you could easily forget you're living in one of the world's major capital cities. When you love living where you live, it's always a shock when you hear that something unpleasant happened there, as I did earlier this week.
We live less than a five minute walk from our local park so we go there most days, along with lots of other mums. It's a smallish park but has everything you need, a playground for the children, quiet gardens to sit in, a running track, football and tennis courts, a gym and a cafe (I know that makes it sound big, but really it's not - just well laid out). It's the hub of the local community. It was a shock therefore to hear from a friend that there had been a kidnap attempt on a child there last week! Of course you hear about these sorts of incidents unfortunately fairly frequently in the news but you don't ever imagine something like that happening on your own doorstep.
I do not know the details of the incident, just that the child shouted out, which drew attention to what was going on and thankfully avoided the worst possible outcome. That leaves you presuming that the culprit is still around and might try the same thing again. As responsible parents, we all keep an eye on our children when out and about but at the same time, it's easy to take our eyes off them for a minute or two. Maybe you're walking along and your child is dragging behind you, looking at something or watching another child, or maybe you're just engrossed in a conversation with another mum and not looking at your child for a moment or two. It's not bad parenting but those brief moments can be all it takes for someone nasty to step in and grab them.
It's easy to drive yourself crazy with worry and fear about what could happen to your child when you stop to think about it or ponder on instances that have been prevalent in the news, cases like Jamie Bulger or Madeleine McCann. That doesn't do anyone any good. There's a fine line with being protective and over-protective of your child and you don't want to let unnecessary concern constrain what you do with your children. The important thing to take from these upsetting occurrences is to always be vigilant of your own child, of those around you and also of the surroundings and other people nearby. Don't be embarrased or afraid to question something you see that seems unusual or strange, better to be wrong than risk ignoring something that could present a real danger.
Do you have any thoughts to add? Have any of you or your friends been affected by any scary incidents concerning children? I hope not!