The single most effective sentence in the entire story; in fact, it could probably stand for the entire story.
1) How many children walk or bike to school every day? ~10 million?
2) How many of those 115 were kidnapped while on their way to or from school? Half?
3) How many of the answer to 2) were kidnapped while they were on their way to or from school alone? Half again?
"203,900 kids were abducted in 1999 by family members or parents. Approximately, 58,200 were 'non-family' abductions — only 115 were defined as the frightening kidnappings by strangers." -- http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=91365&page=1
Unless almost all of the family cases are non-custodial parents, your claim of hundreds of thousands seems a bit exaggerated. Some of these must be custodial parents, uncles, grandparents, siblings, and so on.
I think 'non-family' means acquaintances, minus the 115 cases of abduction by a stranger.
BTW, in addition to wikipedia's contribution to society of a free encyclopedia, I think this phrase is a great contribution. As Gerry Sussman says, "once you can name a spirit, you have power over it."
Is it mostly for sexual abuse? Child labor? What percentage occur in middle class suburbia compared to a poor inner city area?
But yeah, I would expect the numbers to change quite a bit from year to year.
Also, I wonder what the historic measures are. Back in the eighties, we weren't coddled nearly this much, but there was a reasonable amount of crime. How many children were abducted then?
It's similar to school buses and child fatalities. On the face of it, making school buses safer sounds like a noble goal and something we should do. But when you consider that less than a dozen children die each year in school bus accidents out of, again, all children in the United States, there's probably not much that can be done. (Source: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1289/why-are-there-...)
If I had children, I wouldn't want them to live a sheltered life and, obviously, there are a lot of common-sense precautions, but I still think that analysis of this information could be useful to the public.
* …115 kidnapped… 2,000 are killed in auto accidents… *
(Presumably that number is correct. I got from some ambulance chasing lawyer's site, but he suggested it was a real number.)
Likewise, for injuries, an average of 3.1 million were injured per year in car crashes, and 153,452 Americans were wounded during the Vietnam War.
: http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/tables/09s1066.pdf Covers 1990-2006.
Will society really forgive the responsible person if really something happens? I hope I would let my kids walk to school, but I think there is some kind of "tragedy of the commons" at work here. It's also why there will always be more and more stupid laws (like security cameras everywhere, privacy on the internet and so on) - because if you reject a law that is supposed to enhance security, you could be blamed if something happens.
People will always make mistakes. Two years ago a single school computer had it's configuration messed up so that it mounted the school office's storage for everyone. That meant anyone who entered the school could potentially download a database containing the home address, phone number, full name, and other information on every single student there (over 1500). After thinking long and hard I decided not to report it. The reason? I'd most likely be expelled for stumbling across it since they could term it attempted hacking. I only share this here because this alias has rock-solid anonymity (or is that just hubris?).
Maybe. My question is that how many of those children that are in auto-accidents are pedestrians? The problem is that a lot of motorists do not drive carefully around pedestrians (since there is no risk to you by a pedestrian).
I have driven with people who do not even attempt to slow down when there is a group of kids walking along the side of the road. I would rather have my child in a vehicle than on a bicycle when he is in an accident. A guy in an SUV will not even notice that he drove over a ten year old.
Our school also requests parents driving their kids to school to consider parking a couple blocks away and walking the remaining distance. A few people seem to do this, but it seems that the majority still can't fathom doing anything but dropping their kid off at the curb in front of the school.
We're not totally irrational. We know our kids aren't going to get stolen off the street. But it's hard to dispel the idea that they could get hit by a car. Because they totally can.
A 9-year-old crossing a street implicates two very scary variables: the fucking morons driving down our residential streets at 40mph to get around traffic on the main drags, and the fucking morons we've kept alive for 9 years who will still occasionally run out into the street without looking.
There's also the guilt factor. If something common happens to your kid, it's an 'accident'. If your kid gets kidnapped, people put more of the blame on you. I mean, I have lots of designs for safer transit, but it's a lot easier to keep the kid on a leash than change people to focus on the safety of automotive travel above the need for a status symbol. Why do only pros wear helmets?
Instead of doing things that would help reduce cars hitting pedestrians and traffic accidents in general(more sidewalks, longer yellow lights, more crosswalks, more traffic enforcement, more required training which includes focusing on sharing the road with non-cars....) many communities spend more time on things to prevent kidnappings which are already incredibly rare (the article goes into many examples.)
And mattmcknight has an excellent point.
(Before you ask: there are 6 potential street crossings onto the school grounds. The school can only afford to staff one of them with a crossing guard.)