Sunday, 6 September 2009

Every parent's worst nightmare

So was he or was he not?

Was Michael Jackson a pedophile? Or was he just a very….OK, hold on- VERY strange guy?

A very pretty friend of mine is a single mother with a 14 year old daughter.

The other night, over a dinner and a glass of wine- as you do- I asked her why she was still single. How was that even possible, I asked, to remain single when she looked like that?

And she told me that she found it very difficult to bring a man into her life- and her house- when she had a young daughter.

Of course, I told her to stop being paranoid. That while she was still young, and her daughter was only a child, she needed to get out there and try to sort her personal life out.

But on my way back, driving in the dark, I was alone with my own thoughts and fears. And while only a few years ago I would have thought the woman was crazy to see a pedophile in every stranger, I now am a mother of a little girl myself. And I live in the UK.

I have no idea why, but since I moved here, every time I open a newspaper, I worry I might see yet another cute little face smiling at me: Missing. Dead. Dismembered. Little body found naked in a ditch. Every parent’s worst nightmare.

Back home, when I was about 10 or so, I remember crossing the road near my house, when a Volga pulled over, and an older man asked me if he could give me a lift. When I continued walking, he offered me some grapes. Like I was that stupid.

But overall, it felt safe. Of course, lack of any honest media helped. Even if something happened around us, we could not read about it in a newspaper.

Yet, I am convinced it had something to do with the neighbourhood community culture that was, and I hope still is, so strong back home. Neighbours knew what everyone was up to. They watched what you bought, and what you were wearing, and whether your rubbish bins were smelly.

So it must have been pretty hard to steal a child back home.

We used to play in the yard since we were little, with no direct supervision. We could spend all day outside, only interrupted by our mothers calling from the balconies, shouting across the yard: lunch time!

But modern western cultures are different. You are on your own. You could be living next to your neighbours for years without knowing anything about them. You will smile politely and say good morning, but you might as well be a walking zombie and nobody will notice.

So I wonder if we all just expect the worst now.

Like this friend of mine who is still single, because she is paranoid of bringing a strange man into her life.

I would like to think that majority of people are not sick pervs. I would like to think Michael Jackson was actually just really weird. And very different. But... had it been my child he had invited for a friendly sleepover, I would have taken no chances.


  1. Well, I think every culture, East, West, North, South, has a certain procentage of people who would abuse children. And I think sometimes there's nothing that can really prevent it, not even friendly neighbors. Sometimes the friendly neighbor is the perp. And mostly it's someone from the family, which is the saddest part. The cases when some random stranger snatches a kid of the street echo in the media, but there's so much abuse in families, that will never come out...

  2. There are sick people everywhere but some are sicker than others.
    Small groups of militant and highly organized child molesters operate worldwide through pedophile organizations, whose members claim genuine concern for the welfare of children. Their belief is that sex with children is harmless; some even claim that sexual relations are healthy for children. These groups' goals include decriminalizing child molestation and lowering the age of consent. The actual number of members in these organizations is unknown, though one, the Rene Guyon Society, is listed in the Gale Encyclopedia of Associations as having 5,000 members. Other major pedophile organizations include NAMBLA (The North American Man-Boy Love Association) and PAN (Pedophile Alert Network) in the Netherlands. Members receive monthly magazines and newsletters that include seduction techniques and advice on avoiding detection and prosecution.

    That organization wouldn't be possible in Azerbaijan, Georgia or Russia. It has something to do with the society, may be these are drawbacks of freedom.

  3. In the Philippines, there is a strong "neighborhood" gossip community, but it's still a very dangerous place, for locals and foreigners.

    It's true what you say about Western culture though. You could live across the hall from someone for decades and never know more about them than that they leave at a certain time in the morning or bang their door when they get home. People just generally don't make the effort to get to know each other.

    From what I've experienced in the US, most relationships are made at work or through people at work. It's very rare that people kick off conversations with each other in public places and then become buddies. Perhaps life is too hectic now? Perhaps there are just too many things to attend to, or distractions that people feel they must attend to, to make time for building new relationships with 'strangers'.

    I think the majority of people are normal, in their own ways. If most people were prone to child molestation the world would be a very different place, I'm sure. I like to have a little faith in people. There are sickos out there, but I don't want to let that ruin it for me.

    Still, though, when I have kids, they're going to be closely supervised and well taught about the dangers of old men (or women) offering candy.

  4. Very scary, indeed...

  5. @MLK: Very true. A VERY friendly neighbour is the one to watch out for.

    @sofisticos: Yes, but I was most impressed with that huge international operation that took place...dont want to lie, I think last year or the year before. Have you heard about it? They had been joined together-across countries, I think in something like 7 major one across the world...and on one day, at exactly the same time (so nobody could get on the net and warn their mates) they arrested a HUGE number of pedophiles from a major online network. That was truly cool.

  6. I've always thought that the worst people are the ones who commit child abuse. It is outrageous as it is, but it is even worse when the child knows the abuser and trusts him/her.

  7. Now that you say it I do remember something. Yes, in free countries, you can at least know for sure that once the pedofiles have been caught, they will be punished.

  8. To me every man is a potential pedophile. I have three daughters and have no rights to take any chances.

    By the way, love your heartwarming blog.

  9. @anonymous...Sorry! :)))) I chose weird subjects, but not always. sometimes I write about you know, car boot sales and food...pretty innocent stuff.