Archive for Thursday, July 25, 2002

It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world

We’ll get by with a little help from friends (and maybe even strangers)

July 25, 2002

In the summer, more than any other season, the weekend offers much to be desired by the working stiff.

Last weekend's arrival, coupled with less-than-comfortable temperatures, drove me to head to the Lawrence City Pool for a refreshing dip. This was my first time testing the waters at the Lawrence pool, and I was more than happy to shell out the $7.50 for my girlfriend and I to enjoy a day of splishing and splashing.

I'll admit, I haven't gone swimming at a public pool in a long time. Actually, it's been at least 10 years, because my parents' above-ground pool allowed me to swim whenever I wanted with the benefit of privacy. I decided to try some of the feats that a large pool offers. I made numerous jumps off the high and low diving boards. I even tried to swim laps, which proved to be a painful reminder of how long it's been since I've actually tried to swim one. However, the real fun came with a stroll to the "kiddie" side of the pool.

Honestly, the kids have it better. Equipped with fountains, wading pools and plenty of hydraulic systems to play with, the kiddie side of the pool was far better than its adult counterpart.

The real fun of the pool was the children. As I sat in the shallow water basking in the sun, children yelled, splashed and played water games around me. I even got in on a quick game of catch, after narrowly escaping a direct hit with a waterlogged ball.

It really only takes about five minutes of watching children play in a pool to give me a daylong smile. At the same time, it also made me reflect on recent events. I'm not a parent, but I'm sure last week was a wake-up call for parents nationwide as they learned of the fate of Samantha Runnion, a 5-year-old child who was abducted in Stanton, Calif., and was later found dead more than 75 miles away. Meanwhile, the parents of Elizabeth Smart are optimistic, holding onto the hope their 14-year-old daughter will turn up alive. Yet, the public and it seems law enforcement personnel are no closer to finding the young girl since her July 5 disappearance in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Parents, undoubtedly, have it tough. Nevermind that "school days" are right around the corner, when parents look to drained wallets and shell out big bucks for school supplies, clothing or whatever. The danger is real that children could be the prey of soulless predators, and abductions could happen anywhere, anytime. It could happen in your town.

I think it's time for community paternalism. We grown-ups can do our part by being cautious and aware. I'm not saying frisk every lone person walking by a playground, but by keeping an eye on a situation, being aware of surroundings and using one's head. We can all pitch in to help ensure situations like the aforementioned are kept to a minimum, or ideally, eliminated. Take a look at the wall at the post office or search for "Kansas" at www.missingkids.com. This is a problem not limited to "somewhere else."

If responsible people are cautious and aware, maybe we can keep children safe and prevent the next tragic headline from having a De Soto dateline.

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