When I was 8 or 9, my twin sister and I were walking down the street with our dog. She had the leash while I walked a little ahead of them. A boxy maroon car stopped near me, rolled down the window and the dark-haired man driving the car asked me for directions to what was supposed to be a nearby street. I knew a lot of roads around there and that one didn't sound familiar. I never got right next to the car because I'd already been introduced to stranger danger through a book issued by our local police department called "Betsy and Bill and the Nice Bad Man." My gut also told me something wasn't right.
Around the same time I told the man that I hadn't heard of that street near us, my sister came up behind me with the dog. The man left.
As he drove away, I realized that he'd had his pants open and he was "playing with himself". When we got home, I told my mom what happened. She was so cool, a great mom about it. Mom took me to the police department to report what had happened.
I was nervous telling the officer(s) about what I saw inside the car. I was just a kid. This was the 1970's, so they had photo albums of perps, not photos online. They had me look through some to see if I recognized him. I saw one picture that looked a lot like the guy.
When the officer walked away, my mother pulled the picture out of its slot and read the back. It said, "pedophile". Now, I didn't find out about that tidbit of information until just a few years ago. It's only been within the last 10-15 years, as my job in media has lead me to read and see more stories about pedophiles and what happens to the children they get hold of, that I realized the enormity of what may have happened to me. I could have been snatched, raped and killed. And I wouldn't be writing this.
I am very grateful that the good Lord saved me. I am grateful these days for the work being done by the Effingham County Sheriff's Office to protect our innocent children. Crimes against children have changed with the commonality of computers, smartphones, etc. Listen to the podcast linked below to find out how the ECSO is using computers to not only watch out for our kids in Effingham, but for our children everywhere.
Also, make sure you're aware of what registered sexual offenders may live around the children you love. I believe you can never keep too much of an eye on your children. Here are some regsitries you can visit. You can even sign-up to receive updates on when a registered sex offender moves into the area: