Beyond Heartbreaking - Samantha Runnion - Gone Too Soon
Another child, another abduction, another series of headlines. A child at play, now a child at rest. A family whose lives
have forever been altered, violated, ripped asunder. A city, a state, a nation, a globe, again left open mouthed, yet
silenced by incomprehension.
Words cannot begin to express the rage, the pain, the thirst for vengeance being felt by every decent person who has
read the details of little Samantha Runnion. We cannot begin to understand, do not want to understand, the kind of person
who could perpetrate such a heinous act upon an innocent child. Yet while our minds run from thoughts of what she must
have endured, we must, as parents, turn and face the horror in an effort to better protect our own children.
I have three daughters. Three children whom I consider my greatest accomplishments, greatest responsibilities, greatest
gifts. One of them is but weeks from turning six years old - the same birthday Samantha had eagerly anticipated, the
same number of candles she will never have the chance to blow out. She wants roller skates, video games and a Lilo &
Stitch birthday cake. We will get her these things, but we have also decided to give her a difficult yet priceless gift -
Like any parent, my husband and I fight daily to preserve our children's innocence. Kids grow up all too soon,
encouraged to do so by the industries of fashion, music, movies and television. Innuendo, a word I could not even spell in
high school, is now foisted upon and understood by kids still in grammar school. And while we make our attempts to
shelter them from sexual lyrics, violent video games and reality TV, it is time we accept the fact that in one arena of their
lives, information is power and ignorance is not bliss.
Many parents kept 9/11 away from their children - a feat I still marvel at. Afraid of exposing the kids - regardless of age -
to the horrors of man's inhumanity to man, they managed to insulate their children from the endless onslaught of
media. When Elizabeth Smart and Danielle Van Damme disappeared from their beds, they refused to discuss the
abductions, not wanting to risk nightmares, convinced they were doing the right thing.
We can no longer afford to insulate, isolate or shelter the world's children from the fact that there are bad people who
do very bad things. We teach them math, we teach them spelling, we teach them manners and hygiene. We must now
teach them reality.
Sit your children down. Explain in terms their ages can understand that another little girl has been taken. Explain where -
from her front porch. Explain how - details of sexual assault need not be graphically defined. Explain NOW - so it
is not too late. Explain that the oldest "trick in the book" was used - "Can you help me find my dog?". And explain that
bad people don't necessarily look bad, act bad, have fangs...don't be afraid to make them a little afraid. And
finally, show them Samantha's picture. When you put her face to what you are explaining, they will understand.
Empower your children with information. Then maybe, just maybe I will never again have to face this keyboard, typing
another child's name - your child's name - looking at another child's innocent face - your child's innocent
In memory of Samantha Runnion and all the children who have gone too soon. Children with the faces of angels, children
who are surely angels now.
Official Site & Flyer
Visit StopSexOffenders.com for child and family safety information!
Copyright © Linda Sharp. Linda is an internationally recognized author & columnist whose work wraps around the globe to appear in print publications from Maine to Malaysia, as well as
across the web. Linda is also creator of the totally irreverent and hysterical website, "Sanity Central: A Time Out From Parenting!" Her latest book, Stretchmarks On My Sanity: The Growing Pains of Raising a Family, has earned her rave reviews and comparisons to
the late Erma Bombeck. She may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Reprinted with permission.