The little girl who cried wolf
August 8, 2002
No one should ever take the threat of a child abduction lightly.
We doubt if anyone ever will, especially law enforcement officers who know they must react immediately and decisively to any report of a child in danger, because each passing minute could mean tragedy.
There have been plenty — too many — high-profile incidents in the news lately to keep fresh in parents’ minds the tragic possibilities. Some have ended horribly, while others like the kidnapping of two teenage girls from an Antelope Valley, Calif., lover’s lane ended with their rescue.
In that case, the kidnapper was shot to death by sheriff’s deputies just minutes before, they believe, he would have killed both girls. A statewide network for alerting police to a child abduction was credited for helping to identify the kidnapper’s vehicle and locate the girls.
It was a prime example of how quick and massive response to an abduction can save lives.
So what to do when a little girl cries wolf, as appears to be the case in Carson City on Tuesday?
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An 11-year-old girl concocted a story of being pulled into a car by a man in his 50s. She was able to escape, she told police and reporters, by punching the man in the face.
Her story certainly got the attention of Carson City sheriff’s deputies, who responded in force and conducted an intensive search of the neighborhood. Who knew what evil may be lurking?
By the next day, though, the real story had been revealed — a girl who didn’t want to face her mom with the truth.
Parents, relieved there isn’t a child molester on the prowl, can use this as an excuse to talk to their children about the seriousness of such incidents. All the tips suggested by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children printed on Page 1 of the Appeal on Wednesday are still valid.
And for a bedtime story, parents might want to pull out the one about the little boy who cried wolf.