I mean, it’s 2011. We’ve had plenty of time to watch and absorb all the lessons regarding child abduction. After endless reruns of CSI and Law & Order, as well as a daily dose of the local evening news, you would think we’d have figured out how to best avoid our kids getting kidnapped, abused, and killed.

I know we can’t prevent every act of this particular terror, but we can at least think about what we are doing.

True story.  Yesterday afternoon, there was a knock on my door. My kids were outside playing, so I thought it was just one of them. I went to open the door, but instead of seeing one of my own little rag-a-muffins, there was a young man, maybe 12 years of age, dressed smartly in a blue blazer with his red hair combed severely across his forehead.

“Good afternoon. I am selling items from this catalog for the middle school band.”

I stood there dumbfounded. What was this kid doing? Had I stepped back to 1973? Hadn’t he been told that kids should never sell things door-to-door like this? Especially alone? Didn’t the school remind him of this when they passed out the fundraising materials? Where were his parents?

I managed to tell the kid that I had a son in the band myself, so I wouldn’t be buying anything. I didn’t want to freak him out, so I shut the door.

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But I did call the principal of the school the very next morning to report what had happened. I told him I was deeply concerned. Of course, I said, he must be going against the explicit instructions given by the band and the school not to knock on strangers’ doors. I waited for an affirmative response. However, the other end of the line was quiet.

“I hate fundraising,” was the response I got. Then, the principal admitted to me that he had not thought about that particular danger before. That took a second to register in my brain. What did he just say?

I was BLOWN AWAY! He’s the principal of the freaking school, and he didn’t think that maybe there should be some kind of safety policy when it comes to fundraising outside of the school?

He went on to say that the band runs their own fundraisers, and he isn’t always aware of what is going on with that.

Oh my God.

Here kids, why don’t you play with this bag of broken glass while you walk barefoot through this field of rusty old nails? Go along now… When you’re done, you should just hitchhike home. I’m sure someone will stop to pick you up.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

Listen, if you are in ANY WAY involved with a school or a non-profit that asks kids to sell products to raise money, YOU MUST HAVE A POLICY IN PLACE THAT PROHIBITS STUDENTS FROM GOING TO STRANGERS’ DOORS.

My nine year old son asked me why I was so worried about this. So I took him to his bedroom, then I stepped back into the hallway and closed his door. “Knock on it!” I told him. “Like you’re knocking on my door, trying to sell me something.”

He did, and I opened it. He started in on his pretend spiel, and I just reached out and grabbed the front of his shirt. I pulled him easily into the hall and shut the door. “Now you’re dead,” I told him.

He got the point.

Maybe I should have done that to the principal.

Listen, you, as an adult who works with kids, have a responsibility to protect them. I know you can’t think of everything, but please don’t be clueless. Think these things very important things through.

Photo by: Kt Ann