News Releases

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Protecting Our Children- Stories Too Close to Home

Recently headlines about the missing 8-year-old little girl being abducted from a Jacksonville  Walmart June 21 have been all over social media and the news. My heart sank when I saw the report that it was a registered sex offender who was accused of killing the little girl.

Cherish Perrywinkle
8-year-old abducted & killed 
Usually, I don’t let my two little girls- who are 7 and 8- watch the news because of stories like this, but I did show them a picture of the little girl, so they could see that she was their age. I decided this time I needed to talk to them about this issue a little more.
In the past, I mainly focused on them staying close to me when out and not talking to strangers. I didn’t want to scare my kids, but felt I needed to take the “stranger danger” talk a little further. It’s sad to think that one bad thing can change not only a child’s life but impact the whole family.

I remember several times in my life where incidents could have turned bad, but ended up just being scary.
 One time when I was in third grade and my sister was in first grade, we were walking home from school and a man on a bike exposed himself to us. We really didn’t know what was going on, but luckily my mom was waiting at the corner for us and could see a man talking to us. He rode off after we said, “There’s our mom.” That man we picked out of a lineup and he was arrested. I don’t remember too much more than that.
Another time, I was at what used to be called Pinellas Park Mall with my mom and siblings. We were looking at shoes and my little sister who was 8-years-old at the time walked around the corner for a minute to look at the toys. In just a few minutes, a man picked her up from behind and started taking her out of the store. She screamed and kicked and the guy let her go. The mall was locked down, but they never did catch the guy.

How our lives could have been changed. I thank God these incidents were just that and not life changing.
As a parent, I am always looking out for my kids. I am probably a little too cautious, but if I’m not who else will be?
 We have to protect our kids and when they are young we have to warn them that there are bad people out there. Most kids think everyone is nice and that’s how sexual predators and sexual offenders seem to operate. Be careful this summer with your kids especially when you send them to camps. Make sure they know what’s appropriate and what’s not. When you go to the mall or stores keep your eye on your kids. 

Young kids aren’t the only ones that need to be cautious. A close friend, when she was in college was on her way home for Thanksgiving break and stopped at the post office to get her mail and was abducted by a man with a gun. She luckily was able to get away after a few days of being held hostage in his home. This incident changed her life even though the man was caught and put behind bars.
I tell you these stories because they are true and can happen to any family. I know we have to let our kids grow up and have freedom to experience things on their own, but the question is when and at what expense?
 It’s a dilemma I know I face these days. Years ago you could let your children walk home for school, go play at the neighbors or ride their bike to the local store. It’s not that simple these days. The world is different and we are raising our children in a different world. Make sure you talk to your kids and listen when they talk to you. It’s important because protecting our children is our job as parents.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has a website which you can use to look up sexual predators and offenders in your neighborhood or around your schools. You can also sign up for alerts and be notified by email if someone moves within a certain area around you.

Here's the link for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement


  1. You make very good points. It is important to teach our children to be smart and safe. We moved to Europe recently with our 4 children and have been vigilant in ensuring our children are aware of what is going on around them at home and when we travel. I wish we lived in a world where children could retain their ignorance and innocence a little longer but that just isn't possible anymore. And remember - it isn't just "stranger danger" we have to look out for. As children grow older you become more aware of the devil they may know. (look at the Steubenville incident) Bottom line is you have to raise your children to be smart and cautious.

  2. Thank you for your comments.


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