I have four sons and one daughter. At the risk of sounding sexist I will admit that I worried far more about my only daughter when it came to sending her out into the world. Whether it was attending a schoolmate's slumber party or sending her off to college, I was always looking for ways I could protect her from a distance without looking like the obsessed, overprotective father.
The truth is, nothing worked -- I looked like the obsessive father at every turn.
I bought her pocket-sized cans of pepper spray, showed her techniques to disable or escape an attacker, I even bought her a pink baseball bat and made her promise to keep it next to her bed when she moved into her first apartment away from home.
The day she was married to a fine young man I knew I finally had to start letting go.
Now here is what inspired this blog entry today: I watched a television news broadcast on You Tube featuring an interview with a man who invented something I wish was around when I was that obsessed, overprotective father. The inventor, Edric (Rick) Sizemore, is a musician. He and his brother founded a band in the late 1970s called Magnum Force and had a 1982 hit recording called "Share My Love."
What he invented is a backpack that at first glance looks much like any standard-sized backpack normally used by school children, high school and college students. It's lightweight and inconspicuously equipped with two 130-decibel sirens that can be heard within a 100-yard radius and a high-intensity strobe light that can be seen from up to 400 yards away. The alarm can run continuously on a set of batteries for up to five hours and is louder than most car alarms.
From what I researched after seeing the news video and learning of his invention, Sizemore has been working on this idea since 1996. For years he watched news reports and read headlines about violent assaults on women and children and he seemed to make it a personal goal to do something about it. He redesigned his original concepts in 2004 after watching a security video footage of an 11-year-old girl, Carlie Brucia, being abducted from a Sarasota, Florida car wash in 2004, and then learning that she was brutally raped and killed. If you watch the full 58-second security video (also posted below) you will see that shortly after Carlie Brucia was pulled out of camera range other people can be seen walking or riding their bikes in the same area. I can't help but think that had this girl been wearing Sizemore's security backpack she could have easily alerted others to the abduction and survived.
Now I didn't mean for this blog entry to sound like a product endorsement, but I don't mind sharing the link to the isafe Web site, isafebags.com. What I will openly endorse are people with ideas like Edric Sizemore, who saw a terrible injustice and worked for years to make a difference. My heart aches when I see such crimes, and especially when children are abducted and willing people were close enough to help had they only been aware. This is a product that is clearly functional, more affordable than I expected, and practical for a child, but also carries a powerful, easy to use deterrent that can bring peace of mind to a parent (or grandparent) like me.