Monday, July 31, 2006

Adam Walsh Remembered

Anne Morse has an excellent article at NRO regarding the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 signed by Pres. Bush on Thursday. (You probably know John Walsh from "America's Most Wanted.")

For those of you not familiar with the story. Adam and his mother Reve' were in a department store in 1981 when Adam was 6 yrs old. Adam went to play video games on a large TV where several kids were while his mom went to the lamp department about 75 feet away. When she returned 10 minutes later, he was gone. His severed head was found 16 days later in a Florida canal. They believe he was abducted by a serial killer, Ottis Toole, who twice confessed to killing Adam only to later recant. He died in prison in 1996 of cirrhosis of the liver while serving a life sentence for other murder.

Like Anne, this story stayed with me as I had my children in the late 80's and the 90's. I was worse about it than Anne. She wouldn't let her kids out of her sight. I never took them to the stores once they were out of the stroller (and even then not many times). Seriously. When my two older kids were around 1o or 11, I took them to the mall and it was like country come to town. They were fascinated by the mannequins. They were so wide eyed and in awe and pointing to everything that it was almost embarrassing. They never went to camp until 5th grade. The idea of what Reve' did, which every mother did at the time, resulting in the horror that occurred to her son was enough for me to be way overprotective. I make no apologies for it though and they all seem to have turned out just fine. I had to pray a lot to get over being so afraid and I have gotten much better over the years.

John Walsh wrote a book, "Tears of Rage: From Grieving Father to Crusader For Justice The Untold Story of the Adam Walsh Case." I saw it at my library and sat down to read it. I was captivated, pouring over the horror and grief that John and his wife experienced. But then, at the end of the book, John publishes the letter written to him from the killer of his son. I cannot fully describe in words the macabre and sick twisted words that I read that day. I only remember being overwhelmed with the aura of evil. I just don't know how else to describe my feeling. The room spun and I had to put my head down on the table in front of me. Someone asked me if I was ok, and I couldn't respond. The evil there was so pervasive I could feel it around me. I know it sounds strange. It felt strange. In a moment it was over and I closed the book and cried. Just kept my head down and cried as quietly as I could.

No parent should ever have to go through what the Walsh family went through. In the NRO article Anne points out some very real causes of this kind of horror. She wonders, as I do, why we allow so much in our society that leads to this.

"We have become so accustomed to terrible things happening to kids that we tend to forget that we diidn't always live in such fear. Until recently, we didn't have child-sex tourism, child prostitution, and pedophiles soliciting our kids online. A few years ago, we would not have accepted a television show like Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, which regularly chronicles, for our viewing pleasure, stories about the torture, rape, and murder of America's children."

Regarding the new law, Ann says this: (emphasis mine)

"This law is a huge leap forward. But unfortunately, it only goes after predators after they have victimized a child. We also need to go after the people who inspire these crimes: pornographers.

According to the National Coalition Against Pornography, no single characteristic of pedophilia is more pervasive than the obsession with child pornography. The vast majority of child molesters admit to the regular use of hard-core porn, and one study found that states with the highest consumption of pornography also have the highest rape rates. "Not everyone who reads porn acts out [against children], but everyone who acts out does read child pornography," Roben Rodriguez of the International Center for Mission and Exploited Children told USA Today.

Porn is a $10-billion-a-year industry, much of it related to organized crime. Some 800 million adult videos and DVDs are rented every month-- many to people who live near our homes.

Why do we put up with this? Why do we put up with porn on the candy aisle of the grocery store, Internet portals that allow child-porn clubs on their websites, and cable contracts that force us to subscribe to sleaze if we want Sesame Street?

You'd think parents, with Adam Walsh and our own children in mind, would do everything they could to rid the world of the child porn that drives pedophiles to commit crimes against children. Last week's bill-signing is a sobering reminder of how many victims are out there-- and, tragically, how many more victims there are to come."