Within Arm's Length: Closer Contact for Parents Amid Recent Incidents?
By Chris Earl, Reporter
HIAWATHA, Iowa - With most children on summer break for a few more weeks, kids fill the area’s parks, bike trails, sidewalks, malls and stores at a time where parents cannot always be around.
During a stretch filled with the constant news and updates of the disappearance of Lyric Cook, 10, and Elizabeth Collins, 9, from Evansdale on July 13th, many parents were already on edge, worried about the safety of their children.
Yet a pair of incidents in Linn County in recent days has renewed the focus on child safety. Cedar Rapids police say they have taken several calls and tips on suspicious white vans since Tuesday’s attempted abduction of a 5-year-old boy in the 7500 block of Kirkwood Boulevard SW. Investigators said the suspects drove off in a white 1990s Chevrolet Astro van.
This follows a case last week when police in Marion said a man, driving a white van, offered a teenage boy candy near Linn-Mar High School. Investigators said the boy took off on his bicycle and the interaction was reported to police yet it was not declared an “abduction attempt”.
On a hot Thursday afternoon, a handful of elementary-age children are cooling off at the Guthridge Park splash pad, with parents and sitters keeping close watch. We wanted to ask how far out of eyeshot can their children go?
“When they’re in the front yard, they can go three houses down,” said Jen Williams of Cedar Rapids and the mother of two kids, ages 7 and 4.
Carrie Fruend of Hiawatha was watching her one-year-old daughter splash in the water. Yet Fruend has five children, up to age 13.
“They’re only allowed to bike two houses down from us, either way, unless there is an adult,” said Freund.
The major question for most parents in 2012: Is parenting different now than, say, 30 years ago? Even if there is more organized concern about kidnappings and abductions, the U.S. Department of Justice reports 115 children as the victims of a “stereotypical kidnapping”, where the child does not know the assailant and the assailant intends to hold the child for ransom or keep or kill the child.
Fruend, like many other parents, said parenting is different now.
“A different era,” said Freund. “I remember walking to school as a child in fourth grade. I’ve never allowed my daughter to walk to school. She’s 13. It’s very different.”
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