Crime

Unfounded Fears of Pedophile Rings, Stranger Danger, and Satanists

Kids are pretty safe, it turns out.

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Kids
Pavel Losevsky / Dreamstime

A new Department of Justice study shows that the crime parents obsess about the most—the abduction and murder of a child by stranger—is less likely than ever.

As I write in today's Wall Street Journal:

In the past two decades stranger-danger child murders have dropped enormously, according to a new Justice Department report.

In 1997 there were 115 "stereotypical" kidnappings of children under age 17—"stereotypical" roughly translating to "like the ones you see on 'Law & Order.' " These are kidnappings at the hands of a stranger or slight acquaintance.

Last week the department released a bulletin with figures for 2011. Roughly the same number of kidnappings, 105, occurred, but only 8% ended in murder. In 1997, by contrast, 40% did. Today, children kidnapped by a stranger have a 92% chance of making it home.

David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center and one of the authors of the report, told me he believes that technology has helped make kids safer. The perps are easier to track and the kids are easier to find, thanks to cell phones, GPSing and security cameras.

So what of the other big fears of our age, like the fear of children being abducted by strangers they meet on the internet? The study found only one victim of such a crime. 

Okay, well how about all the sex trafficking? The study found that 16-18 girls were kidnapped for that purpose. Unconscionable, yes. And extremely rare. 

Well, are kids at least being stolen by pedophile rings? The DOJ found zero cases of this happening.

How about stolen by Satanists? Zero again.

What's more, the report also found that the victim profile most of us have in our heads—young moppets on their way to school—does not match with reality.

"The poster kids for stranger-danger have often been very young," Mr. Finkelhor says. But that's a misperception. The most common victims are girls aged 12 to 17, with sexual assault being the biggest motive.

Of course, all these findings will most likely not sway the Hollywood writers, who keep grinding out tales of stranger danger. Or the politicians, who keep passing pointless laws as if the country is crawling with kidnappers. Or the cops, who keep arresting parents who don't hover over their kids 24/7.  

And it probably won't stop the busybodies from calling 911 when they see a child outside unsupervised. 

But it is nice, nonetheless, to be able to gaze upon a study that proves our kids are pretty safe—however hard society tries to deny it.

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23 responses to “Unfounded Fears of Pedophile Rings, Stranger Danger, and Satanists

  1. Gray sandals and turquoise socks?

    Foeget about letting him out alone, letting him out with that footwear combo is what should be criminal.

    1. Crimes against humanity.

    2. Dad’s a beta.

    3. It was the 70’s. A wild time for children’s apparel.

  2. Unfounded Fears of Pedophile Rings, Stranger Danger, and Satanists

    “Satanists”? Did we all go through a time warp and landed back in 1993? I am having flashbacks of Sally Jesse Raphael shows and it ain’t pretty.

    1. Gerald Amirault doesn’t think that’s funny.

  3. The perps are easier to track and the kids are easier to find, thanks to cell phones, GPSing and security cameras.

    Evidence?

    Finkelhor’s work is very good at dousing the fear flames. BUT…the why component is very important here. One could easily argue that it’s the rejection of the Free Range Kids philosophy and the cultural acceptance of helicopter parenting and constant monitoring that has led to this.

    As much as I tend to think that all of the rules/controls/policies around children these days affects their ability to learn independence and be responsible, still…this study arms the safety nuts with some hefty evidence that today’s status quo is for the best.

    1. Helicopter parenting has led to technological breakthroughs that make crimes like kidnapping more difficult to get away with?

    2. One could easily argue that it’s the rejection of the Free Range Kids philosophy and the cultural acceptance of helicopter parenting and constant monitoring that has led to this.

      You could argue that, but it would be stupid. The increased co-location of parents has lead to a minimal change in the number of abductions but increased the number of recoveries and the outcomes upon recovery?

      1. Yeah this.

        Helicopter parenting might be able to reduce the incidence of kidnapping (which it basically hasn’t done) but there is no mechanism by which it makes the kids easier to recover

    3. The perps are easier to track and the kids are easier to find, thanks to cell phones, GPSing and security cameras.

      Evidence?

      Roughly the same number of kidnappings, 105, occurred, but only 8% ended in murder. In 1997, by contrast, 40% did. Today, children kidnapped by a stranger have a 92% chance of making it home.

      1. Which, BTW, is not only evidence that kidnappers and victims are easier to find, but since the rate of stranger kidnappings has remained roughly constant, also refutes the idea that helicopter parenting, which wasn’t really a thing in the 90s, has made kids safer.

        1. Thanks. rtfa fail by me.

        2. …helicopter parenting, which wasn’t really a thing in the 90s…

          That’s not how I remember it. The hyperparenting trend started in the early 80’s Great Pedophile Panic. Remember McMartin Preschool, “recovered memories”, “facilitated communication”, pictures on milk cartons, and all that crap? It was then that children stopped walking to school and “drop off zones” appeared.

          1. The 80’s was the era of Latchkey Kids, not Helicopter Parenting.

            1. Speaking as a latchkey kid, my training for walking home alone when I was 8 basically consisted of, If someone tries to grab you, punch them in the nuts, then run away. It never really came up.

  4. Stranger Danger? I’m a Stranger Danger Ranger!

    And as Kimmy Schmidt could tell you, your child has much more to fear from the Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne she knows than the Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne she doesn’t.

  5. Still, parents must teach their children right and wrong. Not, “You’re a good kid now trust your conscience. If you do a bad thing it’s because of ‘drug addiction’ or ‘mental illness’ or ‘radicalization by the inciteful words of the Orlando mass-killer that were televised despite our better judgment’.”

  6. Again, I’m sure your young children are great and bring joy to your life, but no one else wants them.

    I think one issue is that, of the vanishingly small number of parents whose children are abducted (and/or murdered) by strangers, many of them feel compelled to “do something” and take their grief to the policy arena. And they make very sympathetic proponents. I can’t say I really blame them, because I can’t imagine the grief associated with going through such an ordeal.

  7. The satanist pedophile lobby has worked very hard so that you don’t hear about these things.

    1. They’re in charge. Haven’t you ever seen Eyes Wide Shut?

  8. In a world where one crime can dominate the news and cause panic in hundreds of millions of people, unfortunately the political standard is “just save one child” (or at least feel like it will to emotional simpletons).

    “Pretty safe” is not ever going to save us from stupid govt’s and stupid laws.

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