Originally Published: July 17, 2002 6:15 p.m.
For anyone who went through elementary school as recently as the early 1980s, the bogeyman was a remote concept that parents warned their children about, but not a reckoning they were likely to face.
Parents used the bogey man to teach children not to talk to strangers, not to get in anyone's car, and to seek out a familiar adult if they encountered anyone they weren't sure about.
How frighteningly things have changed!
So far this year, the nation has seen the grisly abduction and murder of California youngster Danielle Van Dam from her bed in her home. A nearby neighbor with a history of child molestation currently is on trial in her death.
In Salt Lake City, the predominantly Mormon cradle of family values for the nation, the family of 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart has agonized over her fate for more than a month since a man abducted her from her bed at gunpoint.
On Monday evening, a man drove up to a Stanton, Calif., apartment complex where Samantha Runnion was playing with her friend, Sarah Ahn. He asked for help in finding a lost puppy. Then he sprang from the car, grabbed Samanth and drove off with her. Authorities today believe they have found her body in a remote, forested area of an adjacent county.
The bogeyman no longer is a remote concept; he is a chilling fact of every-day life. We need to keep telling our children about him. We need to make sure they know what to do if a stranger tries to start a conversation with them.
Needless to say, the law needs to change as well with the increasing frequency and viciousness of these crimes.