Craig Michael Wood, Child Abduction, and Victim Blaming

craig_michael_wood

This last week, 10-year-old Hailey Owens was reportedly kidnapped by middle-school coach Craig Michael Wood in Springfield, MO. They were found by police not too long afterwards, but sadly, it was too late. The little girl was found dead in his basement.

It’s a terribly sad story and provoked many of the ladies at my work to wrath, wondering how anybody could possibly kill a ten-year-old girl. But among the discussions I overheard, one began to take over the conversation: “What was that little girl doing out there alone?”

People…isn’t it bad enough that we do this with rape victims? Must we drag child abduction/murder victims into our judgment, too?

You’ve probably heard the following: “Why weren’t the parents watching?” “They let it happen!” “They just didn’t understand how dangerous the world is.” “This wouldn’t have happened if the parents weren’t so negligent!” On and on the accusations go, because nobody likes the truth.

Child abductors don’t just kidnap the children of negligent parents. They get the good ones, too. 

I think one of the reasons we blame victims for these tragedies is that we like to believe we can prevent bad things from happening. “If they just did this…” But here’s a truth you ought to memorize: People who want to do bad things will do bad things. John Wilkes Booth didn’t kill Abraham Lincoln on his first try; he kept at it. If we make a serious precaution about keeping our kids safe, the kidnappers will take this into consideration and simply try something new.

Yes, there are negligent parents who endanger their kids. Yes, there are dangers out there and children need to be aware. But there’s only so much anybody can do. Parents who lose a child to an abductor don’t need more guilt shoved down their throats–they’re likely feeding themselves plenty of that already.

And fear is no way to live one’s life, child or adult. There are bad people out there, and there are good ones. We shouldn’t teach our children to fear everyone who looks their way, but to discern between child predator and the average Joe who just wants to give a friendly “Hello.”

This is doubly dangerous in Christian circles. We Christians are supposed to be loving the wounded, not just blaming them for their own mistakes, even if it’s true! We were lost in our own sin, but Jesus came anyway, didn’t he? Plus, fear leads to isolation, which perpetuates segregation and discrimination. Can we really walk down that road and call ourselves people of God?

The bottom line: Do you know whose fault it was that Hailey Owens was kidnapped? The kidnapper’s. If you want to blame somebody, blame him. I don’t know how careful the parents were/were not in this situation because I wasn’t there. But I do know that the kidnapper is the one who should receive the world’s wrath, not the parents. Instead of focusing on the size of OUR pain, why don’t we focus on the size of the PARENT’S pain? They have a lot more than we do.

Bad things happen to good people. Stop blaming the good people. 

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