One day, a couple of years ago, I was watching TV, when an Amber Alert ticked across the bottom of the screen. It was for a 16-year-old boy in the next town over. The description the parents gave the authorities and media in an attempt to find their son shocked me. It read: "16-year-old black male, black hair, brown eyes. Last seen possibly wearing blue jeans, and an unknown shirt. Witnesses reported four abductors as also being black males, in an older model blue car."
Black male, with black hair, brown eyes... that's it? No tattoos? No birthmarks? No scars? No dental fillings or missing teeth? Nothing else to go by? REALLY? What parent can't describe their child in full detail? I couldn't help but get upset at the parents when I read this. How on earth was I supposed to keep my eyes peeled for this boy, when the description fit any and every person I would run into on these streets?! "Possibly" wearing blue jeans and an "unknown" shirt? To me, this was like saying, "my car is the one with four wheels and a windshield." How am I supposed to find your car with that description!? No make, model, dents, bumper sticker, or anything else? The parents didn't even have an updated photo to release to the press. No photo at all.
Parents are with children nearly every day of their lives. Even absent parents, who work out of town, out of the country, or live in a different home, hear stories of things that happen to their kids. They know when their son wrecks his bike and gets a cut, or when their daughter is bitten by a dog and has a scar. They know, usually, when their children has tattoos or piercings, and definitely know about their dental history, whether they've had braces or teeth removed. Parents change diapers and dress clothing, they know where beauty marks, moles and birthmarks are. They know about curvatures in the arms and legs, or spines due to breaks or illnesses. They know if they have a habit of biting their nails or keeping a good pedicure. They know their child! How, I can not help but ponder, is a parent unable to describe their child in the finest detail?
Needless to say, I was extremely disheartened a week later to see on the news that the boy's body had been found. I was completely heartbroken for the boy. I was unspeakably angered at the parents. Perhaps if the public had a photo, or at least a better description to go by, more of us could have been on the man-hunt for this kid just moments after his abduction. Perhaps, if we had a face to look at he could've been noticed before harm came to him. (Maybe not, but just as possibly-maybe.)
The point behind my rant, is that parents seriously need to KNOW their children. Not just their hair & eye color, but every single nook and cranny of their child's body, their habits, lisps, or other noticeable traits and/or disfigurements. You need to know what your children will not eat, and what their favorite food is. I saw a mother on Unsolved Mysteries, who tracked her missing daughter down, when she questioned a store clerk about having seen her daughter, and the store clerk remembered a girl coming in only buying Vegetarian Vegetable soup. Know whether they are afraid of the dark, or if they prefer to walk back allies to avoid going past a particular house. Know who they are arguing with, and who their friends are. Know their favorite color, their favorite song, what animals attract them and which animals they are afraid of. Know their strengths and weaknesses in school and life alike. Are they a whiz in science? Are they antisocial and rarely speak? Are they fluent in other languages, or enamored by a particular country or culture? Are they afraid of water or do they love to swim? You never know which minute detail might catch someone's attention, and will be the key to finding them or saving their life. Know your kids, really know them!
Sadly, with the way drug usage and human trafficking is growing danger in our country, crime doesn't discriminate, and your child could be abducted, or shot just as easily as someone else's. Don't have that "never happen to me" attitude. You never know which second with your child might be your last. You never know when something bad and unimaginable might befall your family. Better safe than sorry. Better to give too much info rather than not enough. I'm sure the parents were devastated. I don't want to believe they didn't care for him much, despite the fact they could not describe him. I want to believe that was due to shock and fear, and not being able to think straight at the moment.
I want to believe he was their world, their pride and joy. But something told me that wasn't the case. It felt more like they might have been parents, so consumed by their own world, that they rarely noticed him. I can't say I wasn't frustrated that we neighbors had nothing to go by, to aid us in finding the boy. I can't say I wasn't disturbed to know that child lay there in the ditch for a week in the elements, and having animals feast on him before he was ever found. And I can't say I didn't want to smack the parents as hard as I could across their faces, for not spending more time looking at their child, studying their child... just KNOWING their child. I cried for him. I didn't even know that boy, and to this day I have never seen his face, but I cried so hard for him. What on earth was so damn important, that you couldn't take the time to really look at your child long enough to know they look like!?
I hope you readers think about this, and really get to know where beauty marks and scars are on your child's body, whether their little toe has a visible nail or not, whether they have fat, square palms and tiny fingers, or small palms and long thin fingers. Take time to know your child. You never know when that little detail might be the only hope you have at ever seeing them again. And you never know when being able to identify those parts will be the only way of getting their body back.
About the Creator
A mother, daughter, sister and "Star Stuff". I have been a storyteller all my life and obsessed with genealogy nearly as long.. I'm an observer and storyteller by nature. I research the lives of my ancestors and document their stories