This is why I won't be a free range parent

Merry - posted on 08/16/2011 ( 20 moms have responded )

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8-year-old Brooklyn boy is killed and dismembered

By COLLEEN LONG - Associated Press | AP – Thu, Jul 14, 2011





Levi Aron, right, the suspect accused killing and dismembering 8-year-old Brooklyn boy...



NEW YORK (AP) — Walking home alone from day camp for the first time, 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky disappeared.

A day-and-a-half search led police to the Brooklyn home of a man seen on a surveillance video with the young Orthodox Jewish child. They asked: Where is the boy?

The man nodded toward the kitchen, authorities said, where blood stained the freezer door. Inside was the stuff of horror films — severed feet, wrapped in plastic. In the refrigerator, a cutting board and three bloody carving knives. A plastic garbage bag with bloody towels was nearby.

"It is every parent's worst nightmare," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Wednesday, following the arrest of 35-year-old Levi Aron on a charge of second-degree murder.

Leiby disappeared Monday afternoon while on his way to meet his mother on a street corner seven blocks from his day camp, the first time the young Hasidic child was allowed to walk the route alone. Authorities said he had evidently gotten lost after missing a turn, and had reached out to Aron, a stranger, for help.

The gruesome killing shocked the tight-knit Hasidic community in Borough Park, in part because it is one of the safest sections of the city and because Aron is himself an Orthodox Jew, although not Hasidic. The Hasidim are ultra-Orthodox Jews.

"This is a no-crime area," said state Assemblyman Dov Hikind, whose district includes the area. "Everybody is absolutely horrified," he said. "Everyone is in total shock, beyond belief, beyond comprehension ... to suddenly disappear and then the details ... and the fact someone in the extended community ... it's awful."

While the medical examiner's office said it was still investigating how the boy was killed, the body was released so that the boy could be buried Wednesday evening according to Jewish custom.

Thousands gathered around a Borough Park synagogue for the funeral service. Speakers broadcast over a loudspeaker, chanting and speaking in Yiddish and Hebrew. They stressed the community's resilience and unity after what one called an unnatural death.

"This is not human," said Moses Klein, 73, a retired caterer who lives near the corner where the boy was last seen.

The break in the case came when investigators watched a grainy video that showed the boy, wearing his backpack, getting into a car with a man outside a dentist's office. Detectives tracked the dentist down at his home in New Jersey, and he remembered someone coming to pay a bill. Police identified Aron using records from the office, and 40 minutes later he was arrested, shortly before 3 a.m. Wednesday.

Aron told police where to find the rest of the body; it was in pieces, wrapped in plastic bags, inside a red suitcase that had been tossed into a trash bin in another Brooklyn neighborhood, Kelly said.

Police said there was no evidence the boy was sexually assaulted, but they would not otherwise shed any light on a motive except to say Aron told them he "panicked" when he saw photos of the missing boy on fliers that were distributed in the neighborhood. Police were looking into whether Aron had a history of mental illness.

Police said Aron, who is divorced, lives alone in an attic in a building shared with his father and uncle.

Kelly said it was "totally random" that Aron grabbed the boy, and aside from a summons for urinating in public, he had no criminal record. A neighbor told authorities her son had said Aron had once tried to lure him into his car, but nothing happened and she didn't think much of it until the news of the killing, police said.

He lived most of his life in New York and worked as a clerk at a hardware supply store around the corner from his home, authorities said. Co-workers said Aron was at work on Tuesday.

"He seemed a little troubled," said employee Chamin Kramer, who added Aron usually came and went quietly.

Aron lived briefly in Memphis, Tenn., and his ex-wife, Deborah Aron, still lives in the area. She said he never showed signs of violence toward her two children from a previous relationship.

"It's utter disbelief," she said from the toy-littered backyard of her home in the Memphis suburb of Germantown. "This ain't the Levi I know."

Deborah Aron said the couple divorced about four years ago after a year of marriage. She described Levi Aron as a person who was shy until he got to know you and said he enjoyed music, karaoke and "American Idol." She said he attended Orthodox Jewish services in Memphis.

He was "more of a mother's boy than a father's boy," who lived at home until he met her, she said.

She said Levi injured his head when he was hit by a car while riding his bike at the age of 9 and suffered problems stemming from that accident.

___

Associated Press Writers Karen Matthews and Karen Zraick in New York and Adrian Sainz in Memphis, Tenn., contributed to this report.





*******now I realize this isn't common. But it happens, no one thinks they could be the one out of us whose kid is kidnapped, molested, tortured, or murdered but it does happen, and you don't have to live in a bad city either. This kid wasn't even walking that far! He simply asked for help from the wrong guy..........

If I were this child's mom I'd feel guilty for letting this happen, it would be my fault in my mind. So that's why my kids won't be going out of my sights like this... I don't have to hover, but I WILL know where they are and be close enough to make sure they don't need to be approaching strangers for help.

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Krista - posted on 08/16/2011

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The thing is, though...where does it stop? Do you follow your kids around when they're 12? 16? 26? At some point, we have to ensure that they know how to handle themselves in the big, bad world. And even then, there are still no guarantees that they won't put their trust in the wrong person. Hell, most assaults are committed by people the victims know.

I don't see this as the mother's fault for not supervising her child. The only fault that I might see is for the mother to have possibly not drilled it into her kid's head that you do not get into anybody's car, and that if someone tries to get you into their car, you run into the nearest shop.

Whether you're a helicopter parent or a free-range parent, the fact of the matter is that at SOME point, your kid is going to be out of your sight. And so you'd better do your best to teach them some street smarts, or else they'll be sitting ducks.

Tara - posted on 08/16/2011

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We debated this not too long ago when it first happened.
Geography is my major asset when being a free range parent. Can't see myself parenting that way if I lived in a big city.
However, isolated incidences like this, while tragic are isolated. Out the thousands of children walking home alone that day in New York city, he was the only one.
In a country with millions upon millions of children, not just walking home alone, but being home alone, these are isolated incidences. And in lots of them, proper stranger danger, self defense, pertinent information was not given to the children. This puts kids at a disadvantage.

My free range parenting also consists of preparing my kids, helping them learn what to do in all scenarios, staging situations, teaching them, showing them, following them, and the letting go slowly as they are ready to be free range.

This boy's parents did not do enough to prevent this from happening.
All my kids know that if you are lost or separated from a group such as at a fair or museum or in town they don't know etc. they are not to go to security staff first, they are not to go to men, even men with children, they are not to go to the elderly.
They are to seek out a woman, preferably a woman with children in tow. Statistically speaking she is the absolute least likely to harm your child and the most likely to stay with them to ensure no one else harms them,

Prevention and education are our best defenses against sickos. Not sheltering our kids from the minute chance they will be caught unprepared.

Rosie - posted on 08/16/2011

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i'm not trying to be the "you don't have older children and i do" parent, but...:) just wait till eric is 9. see how you'll feel then, cause i guarantee the thought of my 3 year old walking home from school by himself when he turned 9 was a huge NO back then. things change, you see and learn what they can or cannot handle, what they want, and what things you feel they need to learn.

Charlie - posted on 08/16/2011

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Ok I C/P this from the last thread we debated this story about , this is what I think about this :

"I DO agree that we should minimise risk however and avoid certain situations but sometimes these situations are unforseeable (sp?)

We should only avoid so much , In general letting a kid run free before they know their way home or before being given enough knowledge on how to respond to situations is risky but holding a child back from experiencing "controlled" risks is also developmentally stunting , it creates children who grow into adults who have no idea how to function in the world on their own shifting the danger of being alone as a child to finding themselves in danger of being alone as an adult because they lack the skills to be aware , this has a trickle down effect to their ability to function socially.

A psychotic murderer who dismembers children would have found a victim no matter what ...the risk wasnt in the child being alone ..it was a tragedy that the boy was the one .....The risk was in no one picking up on the nutcase who killed him before he found a victim ...I will be damned if I let the sickos in the world prevent me or my children live a full life , it will always be a large part of what I teach my children that they can walk in confidence armed with the physical ( self defense , run ) mental ( stay aware of your surroundings , think quick ) and in this day and age technological ( phone ) abilities to enjoy independence these are things my parents taught me.

I walked to school without a parent at 6 years old ( often with a lot of other children walking down the same road to school a lot of them in my year ) I have carried these things I have learned with me my whole life , I walk everywhere confident even as a teen / early twenties walking at night in the city on my own , If at any time I feel uneasy or unsafe within seconds I know where I will go and what I will do if something happens , I am ready for fight or flight ( preferably flight first ) but if it comes to it my Dad made sure I knew damn well how to fight.

I want them to be confidant , alert and aware that doesnt come with protecting them from things that should and in majority of cases are simple things like walking alone ....That comes with allowing them freedom and independence as each child is capable of . "

Rebecca - posted on 08/16/2011

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This is a terrible thing to happen for this boy, his family and his community. However, the thing that bothers me about "stranger danger" is that it ignores that children (and women for that matter) are much more at risk of violent assault or death inside their own home at the hands of someone they know (most often husband/father), so it is very important to teach children decision-making skills and how to trust their instincts and seek out safe adults for assistance generally. Unfortunately, we can't protect children from all of the ugliness in the world, nor should we seek to - rather we prepare them better by teaching them practical skills to deal with it and ensuring that they have emotional resiliency.

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Jurnee - posted on 08/16/2011

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This is a terrible tragedy, however, at some point we have to let our children go. That's really our job, to raise them to know how to take care of themselves. And there is no magic age, all kids are differet, but we can teach them how to be safe, how to deal with different situations that arise. But no matter what we do, the world will never be safe and tragedies will happen, the best we can do is make sure our children are aware and prepared for life.

Jodi - posted on 08/16/2011

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As has been said, we have debated this before. Basically, this isn't about free range parenting. This was about a boy who was obviously not well enough equipped or mature enough to walk home. For me, it isn't about age. Stipulating "I won't let my kid do this until they are 14+" when you have a 3 year old is not really considering ALL of the factors you will have to end up considering as time passes. Heck, when my kids were that age, I couldn't even IMAGINE them as they grew and matured. I now HAVE that 14 year old and he is probably doing things that when he was three I would never have even comprehended.



Anyway, I digress. Free range is not about just throwing a child out in the world and saying "here kid, figure it out". This child should have been armed with certain skills.



Unfortunately, he got IN the car with a stranger. One of the reasons I would NOT allow my 6 1/2 year old to walk home is because I actually couldn't trust that she wouldn't talk to a stranger or get in a car with one. While she KNOWS she shouldn't, knowing and actually being able to follow through with it are two different things, and I know that if she got lost or was in a panic, all the rules would go out the window. So this tells me, as a parent, that she is NOT mature enough to handle it. See how I am focusing on the maturity and not the age?



My son was walking home from school by the time he was 9. Actually, I let him choose whether he wanted to walk, ride his bike or catch the bus. But he was a sensible boy, had walked with us or his grandparents several times, and I knew that if something happened, he is quite level headed. Nowadays, he can catch buses around town, he goes a lot of places on his own. Do I worry? Of course I do. I think I always will. Will I blame myself if something were to happen? Probably. But this is not a good enough reason to restrict them IMO. The chances of something bad happening are highly unlikely. The risk is small. The benefit to your child is great.

Stifler's - posted on 08/16/2011

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I'm actually more worried about my kids being hit by a car/hoons than paedos picking them up.

Rosie - posted on 08/16/2011

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i agree that where you live has something to do with it as well lissa. :) i've just lived here all my childrens life, and most likely always will. so my mind changed while my surroundings didn't. :)

Stifler's - posted on 08/16/2011

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I live in a really small town so I would let my kids walk to school as it's seriously within eye sight of the end of this street and everyone's kid walks to school. But in a big town or if they had to cross the highway, no way.

[deleted account]

I live in a small country town. When my daughter expresses her wants to walk up the street or even go for a walk to her fathers place i would probably allow her to. I would follow or watch for the first couple of times and from then i'd just give her a time limit to get there and back if she were going up the street or if she were going to her fathers i'd get him to msg me when she gets there. She is 5 in October so obviously not ready yet but within 2 years i think she might be. Now if i lived anywhere else it wouldn't happen as young as it might here.
We had a 17yr old murdered in this town about 10 yrs ago and it is still unsolved.
In the case of the OP the man who did that would have done it to anyone he could get his hands on and the boy was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Stifler's - posted on 08/16/2011

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What a fucking sicko. This is not the parents fault for letting their 8 year old walk home it's the asshole who killed him. However I probably would NOT let my 8 year old walk home from day camp in new york city *no crime zone* or not. NO crime zone... in new york... HAHAH!

Lissa - posted on 08/16/2011

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Oh and when I say he was allowed out, he may have gone out but for the most part I could see him out the kitchen window. Also if he left the park to go to a friends house he had to tell me and I would phone and let them know he was coming round. Also no friend lived more than 10 doors from our house, I only phoned because I had babies at home and wasn't traipsing everyone out :)

Lissa - posted on 08/16/2011

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I think it's time, your children, where you live, their friends, their friends parents, the list goes on and on.

Merry - posted on 08/16/2011

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Dyan, Lissa, only time will tell huh! Lol I can't say for sure what I'll do but I sure hate seeing kids playing outside in our complexes yard alone all day unsupervised. Who knows what stuff they're taking about, and how long would it take for a parent to know if their kid got taken?

Lissa - posted on 08/16/2011

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I would disagree Dyan my children are 5,6,14. When my 14 year old was 9 he was allowed out to play without me but at the time we lived in a tiny village where I grew up. I literally did know everyone that lived there, the park was behind my house, I could see the school and nowhere was out with shouting distance. We weren't near a main road and literally if someone saw a stranger with a child they did phone their parents and say did you know your kid is with this person. Where we live now there is no chance of my children being allowed out to the park, shops or walking to school without me until I think probably high school (that's 12 for them) at which point they will get the bus etc without me.

Anna - posted on 08/16/2011

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I don't know if I was raised 'free range' or not, there certainly wasn't a label to it then, but I do remember walking places without an adult, the city pool, public library, etc probably around the age of 9 or 10. There was one rule though, we ALWAYS had a buddy. Sometimes my sister, who was a year younger, sometimes my best friend who was my age, there was always another person with me. Even as a single adult I followed this rule whenever I was out at night with my girlfriends, we didn't go anywhere solo. We had each other's backs.

I don't know how much safer that actually is, but thinking about it, it at least felt safer. You don't look as vulnerable, even if you are lost you're less likely to panic and you run your choices by another person (albeit another kid like yourself). It's a rule I intend to implement with my kids, as least in the beginning. My oldest is still only 3 though, even the idea of leaving him alone anywhere near a street is just out of the question at this point.

Merry - posted on 08/16/2011

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I fully intend on teaching them how to handle themselves in the world, but they won't be 'free range' until 14+ years I think. When they have a job, they have to be able to conduct themselves safely so obviously I'll be teaching them how to avoid dangerous situations etc. But at 9 years old I can not see a good reason for a kid to be walking somewhere alone.
It might be sheltering to them as young kids, but I will prepare them to be safe as older teens and adults. But at 9, no way.

Tasha - posted on 08/16/2011

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Thats really tough because we want to always protect out kids, but we are also responsible for teaching and giving them the tools to grow up and be adults, responsibility and independence are part of that. If we shelter our kids too much and do everything for them, when theyre out in the world on their own they wont be able to make good decisions about who to trust etc.... If you never trust your kids to do anything without you there, they wont trust themselves either. Its an absolute tragety what happend to that boy, and im sure that mother feels eternal guilt, but its not her fault, its that sick assholes fault, he commited a unthinkable crime. That mom was just trying to let her son excersize his freedom, unfortunatly it ended tragically. This world can be cruel, if we hide our children from it, they wont know how to live in it.

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