My goal when writing blog posts is to keep the subject matter light and airy. And 99.95% of the time that’s just what I’ll do–I promise. This morning, however, I am feeling neither light nor airy, and this post, while not easy to write or maybe read, is what I feel I need to say today.
As local readers know, a 17-year old high school senior went missing this past Thursday. The young woman, a long distance runner, disappeared while running alone outside on a trail. Yesterday afternoon, a 30-year old convicted sex offender was arrested in the case, he was charged with first degree murder and rape.
I grew up in Richmond, Virginia. I have mentioned this in the past. What I haven’t mentioned is that I grew up in the city of Richmond, not the suburbs. There was a lot of crime in the city of Richmond in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Some of it violent. Some of it directed towards women. I remember learning at a very young age what the word rapist meant. I learned this because the neighborhood rapist decided to target my mother. He was watching her you see, and she saw him doing so. As a result, we had a police stake out at my house. I wasn’t there at the time, but somehow my brother and I found out what was going on. My mother was not a victim because she was very smart when it came to personal safety. She was observant and always on guard and she wasn’t afraid to call the police when she thought she was being targeted.
It is not nice to know that the neighborhood rapist exists, even worse to know he is after your mother. Not terrible either. I learned at an early age to have a healthy fear of bad guys. I learned that bad guys didn’t necessarily look like they did on TV. I was taught never to put myself in dangerous situations. I was told (repeatedly) what a dangerous situation was. I was raised to call my parents to check in, and often (before cell phones). All of that being the case, I still did stupid things! Nothing that ended in a bad or dire result–thankfully.
My children have been raised with the same type of instruction. Yet, upon learning that the young local woman was missing, the first response from my 16-year old daughter was something like, “This is La Jolla, that kind of thing doesn’t happen here.” Groan.
I cannot stress enough how important I think it is to prepare our kids for the real world. Even if that means frightening them a bit. I was frightened, yes, but I never have lived my life in fear. There is a difference. Gavin De Becker, a world-renowned security expert and the author of the New York Times bestseller, The Gift of Fear, believes that we all come equipped with the one tool needed to avoid putting ourselves in harm’s way. He says we are all security experts because of this tool. He points out that while we all possess it, most of us don’t use it. The tool I am referring to? Intuition.
Here is a link to the first part of a special that Prime Time Live aired on De Becker, his theories about fear, safety and the importance of cultivating intuition. I understand if you can only take so much of the these kinds of stories and realities and don’t want to watch. I feel compelled though to share.