The Line Between Safety and Fear

This morning a girl from neighborhood, who I don’t know, knocked on our door. My husband answered and the girl said, “I missed the bus, could you drive me to school?” My husband hesitated before agreeing to give her a ride.

I know that I am new to small town life (or at least this small) but I was really disturbed by this incident. Maybe it is the fact that last year we had a big meeting at my daughter’s elementary school about Stranger Danger after a registered  sex offender (and high risk) was released on parole and moved into the neighborhood near the school, and after a couple of incidents in our neighborhood and at the school involving strangers and cars and children. We were scared. At the public notice meeting over the parolee, the police provided lot of information about the numbers of registered offenders in that area. There were a lot, both men and women.

Back to this morning’s incident. I like that this child has been taught to trust her neighbors, but at the same time my mind was screaming “You just asked a strange man for a ride!”

So what do I teach my daughter? I don’t want her growing up in fear of every strange person. I want her to be confident about asking for help when she needs it. But, at the same time, I want her safe. I was just saying yesterday, as we were with a group trick-or-treating  that I am cautious about arranging play dates for Sarah until I meet the parents. Is that being a good parent or instilling fear into my daughter and reinforcing loneliness?

It is all so confusing.  I would love to live in a world where this was not an issue, where I could feel safe everywhere and trust that everyone around me is as kind as I am. I would love to live in a world where I feel comfortable leaving my doors unlocked at all times. Maybe I’m just still not comfortable in my new town. I left my door unlocked in my old neighborhood. And, even though I didn’t know my neighbors well, I would not have minded if Sarah went to them for help.

I would have minded her knocking on a stranger’s door however.

Where is the line between safety and fear?

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Some more thoughts . . .

A friend just commented that she was more afraid for Nathan because of  “In this day in age the shit that could rain down on him for having a stranger’s 4th grade girl in his care and in his vehicle (as in if there was an accident) is huge.” She’s right. In our time, being a good Samaritan or a kind neighbor has its own risks. That, in itself, is a sad statement. I would love to be able to trust people fully, but trust doesn’t last long in our society. Where did we go wrong?

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