Keep children safe

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Keep children safe

Dear Editor,

As a young child, I lived in McCook from 1933 to 1937. The kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby happened on March 1, 1932. The terrible event had influenced my mother to warn her small children about kidnappers.

Perhaps she overdid it, as my sister and I would cross the street if we saw a man coming our way.

We lived at 801 East Fifth Street, the last street on that side of town.

There was a little store a couple of blocks away. When we walked there to buy our penny candy, we kept a sharp eye out for kidnappers. Later, Mom's warnings were about white slavers as we grew older.

I was not sure what they were, or what they looked like. About 1937, she read aloud from the newspaper about a little boy named Bobby Mattson who had been abducted from his home and found murdered. It seemed as if she thought enough warnings would keep us safe. We became like scared rabbits as a result.

My father, Matt Berg, was a special agent for the CB&Q railroad. In 1936, he, a police chief named Dutcher and the sheriff, named Trosper, offered to fingerprint children so there would be a way of identifying them in case they were abducted. I still have mine. (Copy enclosed.)

However, because of the terrible events this summer of children being kidnapped, sexually assaulted and murdered, parents need to have serious talks with their children.

It isn't enough to say "Don't talk to strangers." That advice is too vague. They need to know that if someone tries to lure them to a car, they should move the other way and find an adult. Mainly, to be aware of their surroundings and not get within grabbing distance in a situation like that. I am no longer a scared rabbit, but am still aware of my surroundings.

Some people say they will not tell their children anything like that, as they want them to grow up trusting people.

In this time of child porn, drugs and perverts, keeping children safe should be a priority.

Edith Berg Frerichs


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