Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Talk to your kids about kidnappers

I've spoken with my son, Junior, about kidnappers, and not going with strangers, in the past. And I assume his school has done so as well. But given the tragic news about Leiby Kletsky, I thought it would be a good idea to have a conversation with him this morning and reinforce the lesson, before sending him off to camp.

The conversation went something like this:

Me: So, Junior, did your school even talk to you about 'Stranger Danger'?
Junior: I don't think so.
Me: Well, you should know not to go off with a stranger, or get into his car if he tells you to.
Junior: I know that!
Me: Still, it is a good idea to say things, even though they seem to be obvious. It is a good reminder. So, if you are with your bunk and a stranger approaches you and asks you to come with him, don't. Because the other day a boy around your age got into a car with a stranger, and he was killed.

(See Rashi on Vayikra 16:1.)

Junior was a little shocked at that, and we spoke about this for a bit. Why would a stranger want to do that? Well, some people are crazy, and do things that they should not. And so on and so forth. Then, we spoke about other things, and he finished his breakfast, and got ready for the bus.

About a half hour later, just about before the bus came, he picked up the topic again:

Junior: Not going off with a stranger, that is when he isn't wearing a kippa, right?
Me: Actually, no. Even if he is wearing a yarmulke. In fact, the boy who went off with the stranger and was killed went off with a stranger who had a beard and kippah.
Junior: So he was a non-Jewish man who put on a kippah?
Me: I think the man was Jewish.
Junior: But why would that man do such a thing?
Me: I think he was crazy.
Junior: So crazy that he would do something against the Torah?!
Me: Yes, some people are that crazy.

People talk to their kids in different ways. But I see that Vos Is Neias posted the following, about how to explain to your kids about the tragedy, especially as it was brought to their attention with the massive search and tehillim campaign yesterday:
In order to assist parents in speaking to your children about this horrific tragedy, we are setting up a conference call for 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time where you can call in and listen to directions on how to speak to your kids.
To access the call, kindly dial.  (209) 647-1600 and when prompted, enter the Participant access code: 236682.
Please note that there are only 1,000 people who can dial in, so if you maxed out and are unable to join, a recording of the call will be posted on various websites as soon as we are done with the call.

Here, also, is a half-hour video of Rabbi Yakov Horowitz addressing how to speak to your kids about personal safety:


zach said...

Junior: So crazy that he would do something against the Torah?!
Me: Yes, some people are that crazy.

Umm, one could also take this question and answer as suggesting that people that go "against the Torah" - including those that eat non-kosher, drive on Shabbos, get a tattoo, etc etc - are crazy.

joshwaxman said...

sure, if that was the only conversation we ever had.


Devorah said...

re:Stranger Danger

Ummm... maybe you should rethink that... the murderer wasn't a stranger. And apparently most assaults and worse are committed by people known to the families concerned.

These days strangers could be safer than people you know.

joshwaxman said...

I've heard different reports on whether or not he knew him, or was lost and was just asking for directions. (Maybe he knew him, and that is why he asked for directions?)

Regardless, you are right that that is also an important conversation parents should have with their kids. The video about personal safety has good coverage of that, I think.

kol tuv,

joshwaxman said...

See here that they claim there was no relationship to the family.

Still, one should try to protect against both...


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