PARENTS across the area will have read our “child abduction” story in theis week’s paper with a mixture of emotions.
There will be anger that the nine-year-old lad made up such an elaborate story, relief that there is not a potential child abductor on the loose and perhaps regret that some of us have denied our children the freedom to roam since the story broke in our sister paper the Lincolnshire Free Press on February 28.
Like many parents, I went home after reading the story and warned my children all about “stranger danger”.
It was a particularly poignant worry for me as I am also parent to a nine-year-old boy, living in a South Lincolnshire village.
But I’m not angry at the youngster, just relieved that there isn’t some pervert prowling our streets.
And I’m not regretting my tea-table lecture either. Even though this story proved to be made up, there are some rotten, dangerous adults out there and, without wishing to impinge on the innocence of their youth, I will continue to warn my kids about such people.
My staff and I had just such warnings in mind when we decided to put the original story on the front page last month.
We were fully aware that the police doubted the credibility of the youngster’s story, but our feelings were that we had to put it out there loud and clear – 1) in case he was telling the truth and 2) because it is a warning that cannot be sounded too often.
We could easily have led with the story in today’s Guardian as well, but our feelings were that, with obvious lectures from the police, his family and probably his school, that the youngster had suffered enough.
I am also slightly worried that he walked from Surfleet to Pinchbeck in the dark without anyone wondering if he was okay and reporting it to the police.
I dread the idea of one of my little ones getting themselves into a similar situation, but I would like to think that people would be looking out for them if they did.