My latest novel, Dark Mind, opens with the depiction of a girl who has been abducted and taken far from home as part of an international child sex trade operation. As scary as that fictional account may be, real stories of children who find themselves in danger are certainly more terrifying on a scale that cannot even be measured. Many of you have read or heard about the attempted child abduction in a Walmart in Georgia, which offers both details of horror and relief.
Seven-year-old Brittney was allowed to stay in the toy aisle while her mom left for a minute to add some strawberries to their shopping cart. While alone, she was approached by a man who engaged her in conversation and then grabbed her and headed toward the exit.
Surveillance video of the incident shows that Brittney did exactly as she had been taught. She did not stop screaming and kicking until the man finally gave up and put her down. Police later arrested Thomas Woods for the attempted abduction, a man who was just recently from prison several months ago after serving more than four years for a voluntary manslaughter conviction. He maintains his innocence, stating that he was not even in the store.
First, I want to congratulate this young girl for screaming, kicking, crawling . . . anything she needed to do to free herself from this man who surely meant her harm. As frightening as this instance is, I am glad to see that the efforts of our teachers and parents to explain safety measures to kids worked here.
I do have a question or two, though. How long was the girl screaming before the man let her go, and did any adult rush to her aid during that time? If any of us sees a child in danger, I hope that we would not hesitate to get involved. Also, at what age is it appropriate to leave a child unattended in a store? I am not asking this to put the blame on the mother; the criminal here is the man who tried to abduct Brittney. But, I am curious to know what you think or how you handle public outings with your kids. At what point can they shop or browse alone? Maybe it would be different with a group of friends or siblings all together?
Let me know how you’ve reacted to this story, as I know it’s one that has stirred plenty of emotion.
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