Not Quite In-Laws

I love Yiddish and wish I had actually paid attention when my father tried to teach me to read it. The language is vivid, flexible, and has kinds of words not found in many languages, such as a distinct term to denote the familial relationship between a man and his mother-in-law. I don’t know that one. In fact, when it comes to in-laws, I’m reduced to one word: machatonim—the meshpuchah (family) into which your child marries.

Technically, I needn’t be thinking about this yet. Neither my son nor my daughter is engaged. It’s not something I’m waiting for with baited breath, either. I really like the current boyfriend and girlfriend and if engagements occur, I’ll be happy. Meanwhile, though . . . well, it will happen when it happens.

(One thing that might be delaying the engagement thing: right now, my kids and their significant others are unemployed lawyers, but that’s another column. In the meantime, check out this from The New York Times: http://nyti.ms/oM4yVi about the law school racket, how the schools churn out more and more lawyers in the face of fewer and fewer jobs while the presidents and faculties get rich)

But during the past two-and-a-half years, as both became romantically attached, they developed strong relationships with other families. At first, I did not like this. I still sometimes feel a little piqued or put upon when my son or daughter chooses to spend time with the boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s family when I really want them to be home with us. I admit to the itsy bitsy part of me that wishes they were still little and totally dependent on us for everything, when we were their world. (Well, I got that over with. By the time I finished typing that sentence, I went back to loving that they’re independent and interesting young adults.)

Of course, I kind of knew this would happen. But I also sort figured my daughter would marry her brother’s first friend (son of good friends of ours—didn’t happen). I also wanted my children to have much better relationships with their in-laws than I had with mine. My in-law problem had much to do with geography—they lived in Florida and came to New York City three times from the day I married their son until they died. My husband and I, later with the kids,  went to Florida for at least a week a year, but we never grew close.

My parents and my in-laws were a bad match, too. Not that they actively disliked each other. They just had nothing in common. Maybe they’d call each other on holidays, but that was it.

So, I am pleasantly surprised that my children picked partners with really nice families with good values. In the realm of coincidences possible in this life, my daughter fell in love with a young man from the small town nearest to our country house. So we started seeing his parents socially every now and then—movies, informal dinners. Now it’s more often. Yesterday afternoon I found myself in town in the hardware store, frustrated that I couldn’t find a crock just right for making cucumber half sour pickles like the ones my grandmother made. It occurred to me that I was a 1 minute drive from Dave’s folks. So I picked up my iPhone and spent the next two hours sitting on the front porch of a Victorian era farmhouse. Nice. My son’s girlfriend’s mom and I have been exchanging emails as the kids study for the bar exam. Her dad is on Facebook, and sometimes I see him there. Nice. My son’s girlfriend’s family go to the shore for a vacation each year; my son is joining them. Nice. My daughter’s boyfriend’s family goes to a lake in Maine, and she’ll be part of that group. Nice.

There’s no name for this expansion of family pre-marriage. We have new friends, not necessarily besties, but people we like. Our kids have other adults with whom they interact, about whom they care. I suppose there would have been a word in Yiddish, should the language have evolved in that direction. (The only people who actively and daily use language, aside from some cultural enthusiasts, are certain sects of Orthodox Jews who do not, I imagine, have these kinds of relationships since their kids get married. Early.) Me, the word person—I’m willing to just enjoy the feeling.

Here is a t-shirt I hope I’ll be wearing one day:

  • Follow your kids’ lead. My kids weren’t the type to “bring home” just anyone. When they were ready, we were happy to meet the person. I’ve always tried not to pressure or nag, though, I must say, I haven’t always succeeded. So I say, “follow your kids’ lead” in the spirit of “take this good advice I’ve heard from others,” not, “oh, follow my example.”
  • Try not to mention ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends. We’ve been pretty good about that, though sometimes it’s hard not to mention them especially when they play a role in a funny story. My rule here is that you get to tell the story, but you don’t emphasize the ex.
  • Don’t call a current boyfriend or girlfriend by an ex’s name. I mention this because I’ve done it. My son dated a girl named Megan in high school, and I sometimes call the dog Megan. I don’t get it.
  • Be there for your kid, even when the significant other is in the right. A corollary to this is that even after a break-up, don’t overly malign the ex because they might get back together. A former boss whose kids were a bit older than my gave me this advice: her daughter unengaged and re-engaged about three times before that relationship finally bit the dust.

As always, I invite your comments and would love to hear your almost-in-law stories.

Life Guidance for Gen Y

It’s a good thing I checked my Twitter feed yesterday morning before I put up a different version of this blog post because there was a tweet from Jenny Blake, author of Life After College: The Complete Guide to Getting What You Want (Running Press, 2011), saying she just quit her job at Google. Yes, that’s right. She quit her job at Google, where since 2006 she has been Career Development Program Manager and internal coach. Yes, that Google. The one with gourmet food, a gym, nap rooms; the one that fosters “white space”—that is, time for employees to think about things besides their current project; a top ranking employer-of-choice for college grads (see http://aol.it/iqwdto. Note: AOL classifies this article under “Weird News.” Oh, OK, AOL. You the boss.) Judging by the book, and yesterday’s blog, http://bit.ly/iZZkKd, she did the right thing. For her. And that’s what ultimately important.

If either of my kids ever quit a six-figure job with an amazing employer, you can bet that I’d morph straightaway into Jewish Mother Mode (JMM). I can see the texts I’d be pounding out on my phone, the IMs I’d be sending, and I can hear the silence with which they’d be met. Yup, my kids know how to tune out the nag. But being that I’m not Jenny’s mother, I can be a bit more objective. Jenny’s book, speaking tour, and blog have become her consuming passion, and she’s a big on living your passion.

Life After College, in fact, steers Gen Y to career paths and life journeys that will make them happy, and not—IMPORTANT—necessarily rich. It’s a big debate these days, whether colleges (and advisors and parents) should be steering young people to the careers that will put them on the path to an assured income. Going for the bucks is OK for some. Indeed, for many 20-somethings I speak with $$$$$ and lots of it is their goal in life. They focus early on in college and as soon as they graduate (or finish a professional program) they pounce. Satisfaction with self? Sure, they measure that in dollars.

But for all the others out there, the ones who graduate and ask, “now what?” the questions Jenny poses and the marvelous exercises she includes seem to me great tools for directing choices. I like how Jenny invites people to write in her book, kind of like Dr. Seuss’s My Book About Me (which my daughter owned and revised many times). This really is a “workbook.” Jenny uses icons to demarcate various sections: two pens for the “coaching sessions,” a diver for “deep dives,” i.e. more in-depth examinations random topics, such as clean sinks.  The “Two Cents From Twitter” pages (headed with a red version of the blue Twitter bird) come off as a bit of a gimmick, but crowd-sourcing is a big thing now, and James Suroweicki has certainly convinced me about the wisdom of crowds. So maybe she’s right to include snippets of ideas gleaned from her audience. I also wasn’t crazy about the inspirational quotes, but that’s me. I’m not an inspiration quote person. (I can tell from my Twitter feed that I’m in the minority.)

I would give Jenny’s book to any Gen Yer, perhaps as a companion to What Color Is Your Parachute (Ten Speed Press, in its umpteenth edition, and now a great reference for kinds of careers). Jenny is practical, upbeat and full of belief in herself, an attitude that becomes quite contagious, and I would recommend that my fellow baby boomers make sure their kids have copies. Read it yourself first, though, because many pages could turn into “conversation starters.” And read it for yourself too. Yes, Jenny is our kids’ peer. She is nevertheless a born life coach whose advice cum way-of-thinking suits any age group. We could all pause to take our “quality of life” temperatures (see pp. 234-35) or fill in the blanks about our “ideal day” (pp. 241-243). You might have to purchase two copies.

Yeah, that’s one thing I love about Jenny’s book. It works better on paper. Sure, you could complete the exercises on an iPad ebook, but typing ebook notes is still a cumbersome task. With a book like this, “easy” is an important quality. This book reminded me that some things are best in older formats. Like us, our kids’ parents.

  • Life-coaching vs. psychotherapy: I wouldn’t recommend coaching over, say, seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist if one is truly depressed or stressed. But for those crossroads we reach, whether at age 22 or 59 . . .? Life-coaching definitely has its appeal. It’s short, direct, proactive.
  • Life-coaching vs. psychotherapy, redux: To my mind, a lot of life coaches are bullshit artists who prey on the insecure and needy. So are a lot of psychotherapists. Still I trust psychotherapists who have had years of verifiable and quantifiable training over coaches, who generally go through some kind of training program that lacks an overarching authority to set standards.
  • Life-coaching vs. psychotherapy, one more observation: It isn’t either/or.
  • Finding help for your kids: Let them lead you to what they need. You probably have better connections for doctors and even life coaches than they do, so have some contacts ready in case they ask.
  • Finding help for your kids redux: Jenny’s book costs $14.86 on BarnesandNoble.com. That’s a small investment for a tool that might help your Gen Yer discover his or her mooring.

So good luck to Jenny, who’s already something of a rock star. If you’re looking for an inspirational speaker for an event, you can contact her on her blog: LifeAfterCollege.org. Clicking on the book cover will take you to BarnesandNoble.com.

As always, please leave comments. I prefer them on the blog, but, as always, I like your communications on Facebook and Twitter and by email.

This is Jenny Blake

Lauren Still Missing; Still Missing Lauren

“People just don’t disappear,” Robby Spierer said at a news conference about the search for his 20-year-old daughter Lauren, who vanished in the early morning hours of June 3, 2011.

Unfortunately, Robby is wrong. Young woman, girls, go missing every day, all over the world. And what we Americans don’t like to see is that young women and girls get abducted and forced into sex slavery here in the United States of America all the time. Amy Fine Collins wrote an amazing column about sex trafficking in the online version of Vanity Fair on May 24, 2011. For the women in this story, things mostly turn out OK. They have been rescued. The nightmare they endured is over.

But these particular words from the article haunt me: “Caught in the vice unit’s net was a fragile, ghostly, almost child-like blonde. Barely five feet tall and scarcely 90 pounds . . ..” That could describe Lauren: blond, barely five feet tall, scarcely 90 pounds. I am not positing that a pimp abducted Lauren and has turned her into a sex slave. I’m only calling attention to the fact that girls do go missing, girls just like Lauren. (Here’s the Vanity Fair article. Read it! http://vnty.fr/mSNleY)

As a mom—as a mom who knew Lauren Spierer when she was a child—I have been caught up in the “search,” but from afar. I blog; I tweet; I talk to my daughter, who was best friends in elementary school with Lauren’s older sister. Compared to those on the ground in Indianapolis, what I do barely crosses the threshold of nothing. There are people who put on hiking clothing everyday to search ravines and woods. Law enforcement agents sift through tips. Through this all the Spierer family has been resolute and dignified, eloquent.

Those in the Bloomington community have come to regard Lauren as one of their own, which she is. For them, even the hundreds who do not know her, finding Lauren has become a mission. And then there are the thousands and thousands who are following the blogs and Twitter feed. “What’s pulling them in,” I wonder. The wünderkind New York Times reporter Brian Stelter (twitter handle: @brianstelter) made an important observation in article on the Casey Antony case that the public suffers from a lurid fascination with tot killers. (http://nyti.ms/jP5VRO) To the list of what grabs an audience I would add “attractive young women who disappear into thin air.”

Still, all those people out there who have been tweeting and retweeting Lauren’s information are playing a vital role—because somebody out there knows where she is. Today we call it “crowd-sourcing.” It was through twitter “crowd-sourcing” that NPR reporter Andy Carvin (twitter handle: @acarvin. Follow him) was able to debunk the rumor that Israel was providing bombs to Libya. In 2004 New Yorker writer James Surowiecki called this phenomenon “the wisdom of crowds. This time we hope the crowd will be able to find Lauren. True, Robby was wrong: young women disappear all the time. But Lauren’s mom, Charlene, was right when she admonished: “Shame on you, shame on you” to anyone who knows something and has not come forward. No matter what you did or saw, the more time that goes by, the worse it will be for you. The more time that goes by, the worse it becomes for Lauren’s family. Be a human being. Say what you know.

Before I list a few things that Baby Boomers might want to think about, here are some important resources.

A woman in Indiana, who I’m not sure wants to be named, has been running a blog and twitter feed. Here’s some important information.

 

1. Twitter feed: @NewsOnLaurenS.

2. To find out how you can help online:

http://newsonlaurens.blogspot.com/2011/06/10-tips-to-help-findlauren.html

3. For people in Bloomington, to help organize volunteers who want to search: http://newsonlaurens.blogspot.com/2011/06/will-you-become-find-lauren-search.html

4. To remind others of the tip line and the reward. “Any information would be most helpful.”

http://newsonlaurens.blogspot.com/2011/06/friday-evenings-tweet-please-rt.html

 

Malorie Janasek, who is young and hip and beautiful and an IU graduate, has a younger, hipper, more beautiful blog on her site: http://maloriejanasek.com. Read her. Follow her on Twitter at @maloriejanasek.

For a video of the press conference, see http://bit.ly/miCAlk, from Fox News Insider.

 

Takeaways for Baby Boomers:

  • Keep track. Sometimes the best way to stay close is to pull back and let our children have “their space.” But we need to figure out how to know their friends, their habits. Can we somehow be in their lives without being annoying? Suggestions here? (And I am in no way imputing that Robert and Charlene did anything they shouldn’t have or neglected to do something. As I wrote in a previous post, they are about the best people you’d ever want to mee.)
  • Do something about young people’s alcohol consumption. Bad things happen to young people when they are very drunk. But young people drink, and, it seems to me, there’s not much parents or even colleges can do to stop this. But any ideas? Are there ways for high schools and colleges to get involved without alienating their students? I remember my daughter had to complete an online course on alcohol before she started college. She made fun of it. But, I consider myself fortunate here, she doesn’t hold her liquor well and prefers being sober to being sick.
  • Rally for better safety surveillance. Yeah, this is going to go over big in a country that daily becomes more concerned about Big Brother and Big Government, whether it is healthcare or security cameras. Students won’t want to be watched, but more security guards and cameras might be the ticket.

 

Please leave your comments. I understand that since I moved the blog from Blogher to my own website, I’ve become impossible to find unless one knows the name of my blog. In other words, when one searches Google for “baby boomers,” I’m on, like, page 10. The more comments on the blog, the better the search engine optimization. I’m not saying I don’t love the emails and Facebook comments. I do! Keep those up too. You can all be my Facebook friends: friend me at www.facebook.com/linda.bernstein; like my page at www.facebook.com/lindabernsteinphd.

Two Girls Missing, One Real, One Fake

For the past week or so my Twitter feed has lit up with two stories: the unmasking of “Gay Girl In Damascus,” who turns out to be a 40-year-old white heterosexual guy from Atlanta currently studying in Edinburgh, and the disappearance of Lauren Spierer, a very real 20-year-old from Greenburgh, NY, who has been studying at the University of Indiana. How different these circumstances, and, yet, how well both illustrate the power of social media.

The first, the so-called Amina, was actually an invention of social media. Eager to combat what he misreads in our society as “liberal Orientalism” (yes, this Tom MacMaster fellow has evidently turned the pages of Edward Said’s influential—and I believe wrongly reasoned—book, Orientalism, but not much understood their content), MacMaster drew out a character, an American-born gay girl living in Damascus who claimed that she was the victim of more overt hatred when she appeared in America wearing a hijab than when she announced her sexual proclivity in Syria, a country under the thumb of a brutal dictator where homosexuality is against the law. He created a blog for her. When this character “Amina” was supposedly kidnapped (MacMaster said he wanted to end the blog), the Twittersphere went nuts. The American government got involved—she was, after all, supposedly half American. The FBI quickly concluded she didn’t exist, never had. The Twittersphere dragged it out for days and days more until they had final, conclusive evidence that no one had ever seen her or spoken to her voice-to-voice. MacMaster, not the most devious hoaxster, was easy to track down. He hadn’t even masked his IP address account. Everything could be traced to him.

Lauren is a real flesh and blood American girl. There’s no doubt she exists. I knew her when she was a child. She has a mom, a dad, a sister. She seems to have a lot of friends, and in the days since she’s gone missing, has amassed 20,000 “virtual” friends, people who are following the progress of the search on Facebook and Twitter. I am furious with the lawyers of some of the young men considered “people of interest” who have underscored that Lauren was drinking the night (morning) she disappeared, who have emphasized that she liked to party with boys. Oy, that’s what young people do these days. And I wish they didn’t. I wish they were playing chess or something else. But they’re not. And it’s so wrong to blame the victim.

At the beginning of the Find Lauren ordeal, I was struck by the professionalism of the person running the @NewsOnLaurenS Twitter account. She managed to get the most information into 140 characters or less—leaving room for retweets. She attached photos of Lauren, of the “missing” poster. She “live-blogged” the press conferences. She had a good hashtag (#FindLauren). She had a wonderful voice and a positive manner that has remained appropriate as we got past the 48-hours missing, one-week missing, and other timeline milestones. She had the good idea of contacting celebrities and asking them to retweet—and many did. Eventually all the major news organizations picked up the story. I asked my daughter who this person could be, and she conjectured a friend of Lauren or Rebecca (Lauren’s older sister, my daugher’s friend). When the Twitter-Master seemed to be having some problems setting up a feed blog, I contacted her. She described herself as, “just a woman from Indiana with some experience with social media, but nothing like this.” She is a true heroine of the digital age.

One thing about the social media community: they’re often generous with their time and knowledge. So when I contacted two ultra-super-amazing social media geniuses I know, Mo Krochmal (@Krochmal) and Amy Vernon (@amyvernon), they both came up with blogging solutions, and for Lauren’s Twitter manager, one of them worked.

The Facebook community that grew up with a page begun by Lauren’s friends quickly devolved into disaster. People expounded theories, called each other names, talked about other crimes. It provided very little real information about Lauren—though it did give people a place to vent and a space to offer love and support to her family. I’m not overlooking the importance of that. But it became too much drama, and to counteract that group (which I exited), her parents had someone set up a page where people could not leave comments and would only give information. But there is no information.

The parallels between the real girl and the fake girl have been bugging me for days. While people were using social media to seek real clues about Lauren, those burrowing into the Amina story were, in my opinion, largely navel gazing. Yes, MacMaster did something potentially harmful. The Syrian government now claims all anti-Syrian blogs are “false” in one way or another. He possibly also endangered the gay/lesbian community in Syria as they revealed themselves in comments on the “Gay Girl in Syria” blog. MacMaster stole the identity of a beautiful young English woman by scraping her Facebook page for photos. And, reportedly, he stole the heart of a Canadian woman with whom he exchanged flirtatious and sexually explicit emails. Compared to MacMaster, Anthony Weiner was dialing 411. Sadly, he is bound to make money off of this, something he says in a Skype interview with The Guardian that he deserves (Gay Girl in Damascus hoaxer: I did it out of vanity – video | World news | guardian.co.uk http://bit.ly/jQeQdz). But the efforts to ferret all this out—what do you have in the end? A lying asshole, a Syrian government as repressive as ever (and horribly uncaring and cynical, opening their border with Israel to “protestors” who will, of course, be repelled by some means eventually violent and thus deflect attention away from a government killing children), a woman with a broken heart? And a social media community that knows it was punked.

To those Twitter people involved with the Arab Spring and Middle East news, people with many followers who took the time to retweet Lauren’s information, thank you. And those of you who did not, to borrow Charlene Spierer’s words, “Shame on you.” You especially know the import of crowd sourcing. At this time, I believe, the police in Bloomington are trying to ID a car. Someone out there saw something, and perhaps a tweet, a link to a poster can help jog a memory of something half seen, not considered important then, but . . . . .

The hours tick by and reporters are still talking about Amina and those who “uncovered” the hoax are speaking to interested audiences. Go away, Amina. You never existed. Lauren Spierer does, and her family wants her back. Sure, maybe Lauren doesn’t have the social significance of a “Gay Girl in Syria” blogging about the revolution. Lauren just wanted to go into fashion. Have fun. Be a young person. She also probably wanted to grow up and have a job she loved and a husband and kids. Normal stuff that wouldn’t have changed the world, except for those who love her. Lauren would never have made this kind of social media splash, except that she went missing.

The woman doing the Twitter—she’s heroic and clever, linking the feed to the Twitter trending map. That’s also wishful thinking because, as the time draws out and the police have nothing new to say, fewer people will turn out for the searches, fewer people will spread the word. The news cycle is changing. Amina is hanging on, but Lauren might disappear from the public consciousness. And that’s why it’s so important that someone right now turns up something important so that the media refocuses its spotlight on Lauren.

I have no tips except:

  • Use Facebook or Twitter to get the message out. For information, go to Twitter.com and search #FindLauren or @NewsOnLaurenS.
  • Or just google Lauren Spierer. Email her picture and information about the reward and contacts to everyone you know. And people you don’t know.
  • Join Facebook or Twitter. Something like Lauren’s disappearance is a great argument for the importance of social media to people of all ages. A friend in Israel wrote to me, “your family is my family,” and then reposted my last blog about Lauren. (Oh, Ellen, what great values you have.) Yes, this is especially poignant to those of use who are parents and grandparents. Both Twitter and Facebook have enough tutorials so you can probably join yourself. Remember that google will lead you to VIDEO tutorials. And soon, when I have time, I’ll do a Baby Boomer special rundown so that soon we’ll all be tweeting. My dream: in our Twitter feeds now and then a young blond will turn up, saying something like, “Just had the best burger ever.” Earth moving news. Because we’ll know she’s alive.

Finally, please leave your comments.

Lauren Spierer Is Missing

Lauren Spierer has been missing for almost a week now. In the wee hours last Friday morning, she left a bar near her apartment in Bloomington, IN, where the 20-year-old is a student, and never arrived home.

A parent’s worst nightmare, this kind of disappearance, usually ending up unsolved or as a murder case happens all too often. (Jaycee Dugard and Elizabeth Smart, kidnap victims who lived to tell their gut-wrenching stories, are exceptions.)

This time it’s particularly hitting home for me because I knew Lauren when she was a little thing. I mean, at 4 foot 11 inches weighing 90 lbs, she remained a little thing as she was growing into a beautiful adult. Her older sister and my daughter were best friends through elementary school, and then the Spierer family moved to Westchester where their girls would be safer. If they stayed in New York City, Rebecca would have had to take the bus through a pretty unsavory area to get to the wonderful middle school she had chosen.

We saw the Spierers now and again for a few years after they moved: the girls’ bat mitzvahs, a playdate here and there. Charlene worked at a high-end Florist, owned by her husband’s cousin, right near my apartment, and although my husband, daughter and I always said Charlene might be the nicest person I knew, somehow we had a hard time getting together. That kind of thing happens, I have discovered time and time again, when people wend their way through the paths of life.

At five Lauren was an amazing chatterbox, a little more outgoing than her serious (but fun-loving) older sister, who at the age of eight was determined to become a pediatrician. One of the perks of being an editor at the now defunct Sesame Street Parents was that we could recruit our friends with little kids to take part in the “toy test.” Every year the magazine editors would examine hundreds of toys. Eventually (in the early summer, actually), we sent out boxes of goodies to lucky children. The moms and dads would record the kids’ reactions, and finally after a few weeks everyone got together for a big focus group. Then I would write up the results. (I chose Tickle Me Elmo one year, even though the laughing doll scared the hell out of the kids, because I knew it would be a winner with the parents.) The article would appear in the November issue, just in time for holiday toy buying. One year Lauren got a beautiful doll in a trunk with lots of clothes. Another year it was tons of Breyer horses and stables and other equipment.

“Say thank you,” Charlene told Lauren when I ran into them.

Lauren just smiled. A huge smile. A much better gift to me than anything I could have given her.

Since the weekend, when the Spierers and the Bloomington police went public with the search, I have been on a Twitter list, @NewsOnLauren, which provides links to press conferences, etc. There is no real news. The Chief of Police said that they’re sure she isn’t in Bloomington. I asked my Twitter followers, some with followers in the thousands, to retweet the link to original “missing” poster and information. The social media community, always generous, retweeted. I believe that the more widespread her picture, the greater chance of finding her, if she is alive. Her parents, however, have asked for more “boots on the ground.”

If you’re on Twitter, again the handle is @NewsOnLauren. There are several hashtags, #FindLauren being the one with the most information. The link to her picture is http://yfrog.com/h2c8x9j. Ryan Seacrest has tweeted it. So can you. This is the link to her poster: http://twitpic.com/5842fw. You can put it on your Facebook page. A Facebook group, Missing Lauren Spierer, is sometimes updated by one of her cousins, but mostly has become a venting ground for spurious theories and expressions of love.

My own kids are at this moment probably safe in their apartments. Have they done unsafe things? Oh, you betcha. Will they do them again? Probably. As my son approaches 28, I think his judgment improves. My daughter is naturally cautious. But still.

Remember how we all used to have to REMEMBER to buckle up our seat belts? Now it comes so naturally that I reached for a seat belt the other day when I sat in the pedicure chair. I’d like young people to adopt safety behavior that becomes so ingrained it’s reflexive. Here are some of my thoughts about what we should be teaching them.

  • Always travel in groups, even if you’re walking a block. If you ask them, they say they do it. Evidently, they don’t really actually do so.
  • Find an adult you can call anytime, anywhere. Most everyone I know would get up in the middle of the night if a young person we knew called to say he or she needed help.
  • Carry a loud, loud whistle. Bloomington, IN unsafe? I guess so. Lauren disappeared in the space of a few blocks. Would one of the shrieking whistles been enough to scare whoever took her away? Maybe. It’s worth a try.
  • Pressure bartenders not to serve minors. Yeah right. But why can’t a bouncer make sure young people leave in groups? Why can’t the bar keep check to see the whistle around a person’s neck as he or she walks out of the bar after a late night of partying?

Have any other ideas? I’d love to hear them. I’d love for people to join me in advocacy for keeping young people safe. I’d love for anyone to put this on their Facebook page or Twitter accounts. I’d love for you all to leave comments below.