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Stranger Danger And Your Toddler

As I mentioned in my last blog, JD attends school three-full-days a week. I love his school and their policies. This morning, we entered the vestibule holding hands—his lunchbox and sheet/blanket/diaper bag in my other hand. The director of education, Lily, was seated in her office behind a glass window that was open as usual. I said good morning and signed JD in by signing my signature and the time next to his name (I sign him out each afternoon too). Lily then buzzed us in because the main door to the school is locked and remains locked all day long. No one gets in unless they are a recognizable parent or person that is on a release list that allows a child to be picked up.

My father and younger brother, Uncle Bri, are on this list and back in March and April when I was working on a writing project that required me to work in NYC all week long, one of them picked JD up for me, brought him to our home, babysat and cooked him dinner since I didn’t arrive home until after 7 P.M. (and because his father plays no active role). In addition to this release list, both my brother and father are required to show a picture I.D. and relay a secret password -- I am also required to provide a signed letter noting who would be picking JD up. In fact, one day I had it planned that Uncle Bri would scoop JD up, but something came up and my father ended up picking JD up. I wasn’t at all put off when the school called my cell to ask if it was OK that my father leave with JD, since the letter that day stated Uncle Bri was getting him -- in fact, I was pleased.

This blog comes in light of the horrible news I watched this morning while JD ate his pancakes, sausage and grapes -- at the same time, pushing a “gween” Matchbox car across his high chair tray. Kyron Harmon, 7, of Portland Oregon went to school last Friday with his stepmother, Terri Moulton Horman. First, the two stopped off at the school’s science fair where the bubbly little boy proudly presented his project on tree frogs. According to investigators, the boy's stepmother said she last saw Kyron Friday morning while he was walking down the hallway towards his classroom. Terri and the child’s father had no reason to believe anything out of the ordinary happened, since they didn’t realize he was missing until he didn’t return home on the bus Friday afternoon. His teacher marked him absent and no one in administration called to follow-up with his parents, even when they didn’t call him out sick. Another eerie fact -- Kyron and his stepmother dropped off his jacket and backpack in his classroom before attending the science fair -- unfortunately, no one noticed the items juxtaposed the missing boy.

In addition to this story, I also had the misfortune of watching The Lovely Bones (a book turned movie about a serial child abductor) over the weekend while JD coincidentally napped right next to me. It is so scary to think that someone could take, could hurt your child. It makes me feel physically sick -- I feel ill just writing this blog. I really don’t think I’m a helicopter parent, so I hope this next tidbit of information, especially in the wake of the Horman story doesn’t ruffle any feathers -- it did on my Storked! blog. Confession: I call JD’s school once a day after lunch to check on him. I like to get an update on my two-year-old. And when JD is sick, I call the school and alert them that he won’t be in. It’s just what I do. I don’t think it’s overbearing at all, either.

OK readers, let’s talk about this. What are your thoughts on the Kyron Harmon case? Do you think it was someone on staff at the school or that perhaps a perpetrator attended the open-house science fair? Have you approached stranger danger with your child? What are pick-up policies like at your child’s school? Is the daycare door locked? (When I was looking at daycares back in September I immediately nixed one when I was able to walk right in to a school with not even an attendee at the door.)

PS: Check back in later today to see which five readers won a copy of Rattled! based on their mommy memoir.