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Tuesday, 8 May 2007


It was too hard to work today. My heart is heavy and my mind races just thinking of that tiny girl Madeleine, hoping she will be fine, and unharmed and happy. I cannot begin to even imagine the horror this young family is enduring.

How can we possibly hope to prepare our little ones for approaches from potential abductors or molesters? I am terrified of filling their peaceful nights with bad dreams - as bad as my own. Max heard the sad story on the news in the car yesterday and announced that he would beat up anyone who tried to make off with Freya. How innocent and sweetly unaware my five year old boy is. I tried to discuss this issue rationally with the children, it really is not easy.

"Never run too far ahead, or go out of sight of myself or daddy or Ana", I have instructed.

"Would these peoples have special cloaks and outfits? Would they wear gloves and ride horses?" asked Max.

"No", I replied, "they could be our friends I suppose, even our neighbours - never leave our sight for anyone. Not for sweets, or kittens or new toys or anything else".

"Why mummy, what could they do to us?" asked Freya.

I changed the subject. Is this the beginning of the end of their innocence?

We said a prayer for Madeleine and her family last night and this morning and tonight again. Please God - every God in heaven, bring that child back to her family.


Pig in the Kitchen said...

also cannot stop thinking about her.

I have instructed my children to kick, bite, punch, scream...i think i have frightened the living daylights out of them, but i'd rather they know.

Fingers crossed.

mutterings and meanderings said...

When I was a child, the police used to come into school to warn you about strangers.

I remember thinking that strangers took you away from home. As a child, I don't remember being aware of the true horrors.

debio said...

I remember vividly the little girls who were murdered in Soham. My daughter was very little then and I went through torment trying to decide how to explain that it was not OK to go off with, a teaching assistant etc., just because she might know her.
I told her that she did not have to be polite to strangers, or give her name and it was quite acceptable to shout loudly.
Thankfully this was never put to the test.
Been tested recently with inappropirate attentions from a 16 yr old boy - she saw him as a friend but the phrases he was using were worryingly 'grooming'.

Nunhead Mum of One said...

Every stranger has now got to be viewed with suspicion sadly. Gone are the days of watching your children chat happily to strangers in the play park - our local nursery school is thinking of running Awareness classes for babies as young as 2.....what to do if someone tries to give them sweets or says they are taking them to meet their mummy.

Awareness training at two! The age when all they should have to worry about is whether or not there are spaghetti hoops for tea.

Anonymous said...

Debio - You did call the police didn't you?

Anonymous said...

As a parent of course I am terrified for Maddy and somehow feel that my own children are threatened.

But these sort of situations play on atavistic fears. The fact remains that very few children get abducted and murdered. VERY few.

As parents, wouldn't it be more productive and useful to (a) make sure all the smoke alarms work at home (b) that they wear properly fitted cycling helmets when they are on their bikes (c) that they are taught to swim properly for long distances (d) that they know the green cross code properly (e) make sure they eat their five portions a day to keep obesity at bay and (f) that they are properly cared for during the day and night time.

The more likely risks to our children are through fire, danger on the roads, drowning, obesity and neglect. We can take precautions against these sort of issues.


I Beatrice said...

Dear Dulwich Mum, you say such lovely things! I've heard you say them to Rilly, so never dreamt you'd say the same to me.

Hope the new instalment doesn't disappoint.

This comment seems out of place in such a sad context - but little Maddy and her parents are never out of my thoughts just now, either.

Omega Mum said...

It is awful and we are all, of course, thinking of the family, but it is also worth remembering that abduction by strangers is terribly, terribly unusual. We mustn't surrender our children's freedom to our fears.

debio said...

dear anonymous - police not involved for a whole raft of reasons - this is not like home territory.
My husband has such a way with words - this skill directed at both young man and father.

I Beatrice said...

Dear Dulwich Mum, please don't feel disheartened, and keep on doing what you do so well. We're all different, and there's a place for everyone.
I couldn't do the sort of personal thing that you do, for example....

(Do you want me to withold your comment - or may I publish it?

East of Dulwich said...

Dear dulwichmum

No human could fail to share in the distress of any parent who loses a child -- and like everyone I'm hoping that Madeleine McCann is found safe and well.

But I have to agree with your anonymous commenter about having to look at the wider context. Far more children are harmed in traffic accidents. Research now shows that the alarming rise in teenagers being killed by cars can be traced to the fact that caring parents keep them off the streets during their earlier childhood, so they never acquire any road-sense. When they are finally considered of an age to be out on their own, too old be told how to behave anymore, they waltz into the middle of the road mid-text with predictable tragic consequences.

(see e.g. )

I try not to hark back to some wonderful past that probably never existed. As a child I was taught to ask the nearest adult to help me when I needed to cross the high street but I wouldn't suggest that any parent does that. It's worth remembering that child abusers are very often friends and family rather than strangers - these are the cases that get far less publicity of course, even if they ever come to the notice of the authorities. So, it does make sense to make children aware of dangers but also to encourage them in setting their own boundaries.

By closeting children away are we not in more danger of making them permanently incompetent, not just to do practical things like crossing roads but in knowing when and how far to trust others?


Lucy Diamond said...

It's awful, isn't it. I can hardly bear to hear the news with no update - I just can't imagine what the parents are going through.
My eldest daughter (6) overheard me exclaiming Oh God! at the news the other day, and asked what had happened. I said that a little girl had gone missing. My daughter has been quite anxious ever since, keeps asking, have they found Madeleine yet?
I'm having to say, Oh, I haven't seen the news today but she's probably back with her mummy and daddy now. I'm sure she's fine.

The words stick in my throat, though.

It's of no relevance but the fact that Madeleine was born on the same day as my niece (both are going to be 4 on Saturday) makes me feel even sadder, somehow.

Scruffy Mummy said...

The reality is that 98% of children who are murdered or abused are killed/abused by their parents or other close relatives.

It is tragic what has happened - but as has been stated, it is relatively rare.