Opinion: Predators search for weaknesses | Avi Gutfreund

Lakewood’s residents received a shock this past Shabbos, when a child was nearly abducted near Chateau Park. According to reports, at approximately 3 PM Saturday afternoon, a white van driven by a male pulled up near a 10 year old boy, the van’s driver emerged and attempted to abduct the child, but the boy was luckily able to fight him off.

This terrifying story brings up once again an issue which seems to never be addressed and never goes away. When I was a child growing up in Lakewood, I was never once warned about staying away from strangers. We were a small, close-knit community, everybody knew everybody else, and no one was afraid for the safety of their children.

But much has changed since then.

Lakewood has grown by massive leaps and bounds, most of us are strangers one to another, and yet it seems that the attitude of assuming that our children are safe and will not be targeted by unknown predators remains. This is a terrible mistake, and I believe it is why we have seen an inordinate amount of attempted abductions within Lakewood’s borders in recent years.

Predators search for weaknesses, chinks in the armor that they can capitalize upon to achieve their nefarious goals. When one of these vile creatures knows that the majority of a community is not taking the security of their children seriously, he or she will grab the opportunity to pounce.

This issue requires a change of mindset. Yes, we and our children are generally safe. BUT, dangers still exist. The bogeyman is real, and they’re out on the street, looking for an opportunity. If we understand this and refuse to make believe it isn’t true we are halfway to solving the problem.

The other half of making sure our children are safe involves protecting them with commonsense measures that we seem to be lax about. These include making sure children are aware of the dangers, they understand to stay with people they know as much as possible, and that they should also know that a regular adult wouldn’t ask them for help with something or offer them a treat if they get into a vehicle with them. It is also important that parents know where their children are and who is watching them at all times. I feel that this is the most important point, one that seems not to be taken with the utmost seriousness in Lakewood, and I cannot figure out why. I often see children strolling around blocks and developments completely unattended. What is their parents’ rationale to allow this? I find it baffling.

Of course there are many other ways in which parents can help ensure the safety of their children, but I cannot go through all of them, and you are probably aware of what they are anyways. My point here is just to bring this issue back into the spotlight where it unfortunately needs to be at this time.

For far too long Lakewood has been a community living in a bubble. We generally assume that others have good intentions, and we often sweep problems under the rug. This attitude of ignoring issues in general, and specifically this issue, of our children’s safety, is truly a stain upon us all. What must happen for us to begin implementing safeguards for our children?


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There are 7 Comments to "Opinion: Predators search for weaknesses | Avi Gutfreund"

  • Dovid says:

    I give your letters AAA+++ and you are absolutely right on every word you said

    I now welcome you to the new generation of today all facing 2 major problems worldwide called “FACING REALITY” & “LIVING IN DENIAL”

    What happens today when klal Yisroel is struck by a tragedy? a 16 year old Israeli girl just murdered yesterday R”L
    A 3 month baby in Lakewood just last week. And many more horrific tragedies R”L

    A parent having a problem child C”V in need of extra help tutoring etc….
    What happens?

    95% BLOCK IT FROM OUR FACES AND LIVE IN DENIAL not ready to FACE REALITY and admit to the wake up call from Hashem for teshuva and that We have a problem child and need to do something about it now 9
    And not wait till the problem grows.

    Not shocked with this situation we are in today.

    Start facing reality and realize you are on a tight budget and therefore will need to hold back from vacation versus losing your house on foreclosure C”V I choose to keep my home then go on a 1 week vacation gone in a few days

    May we all wake up to reality ASAP so we don’t need any more wake up calls

    A psychologist

  • Mordekhai says:

    When someone trying kidnapped a kids it must be reported to police. Call 911 even on Shabbos or Yom Tov it 100 💯 permitting to break Halacha when it come to life threatening situation. Don’t delayed pick up the phone dail 911 immediately. Because these people are dangerous to community.

  • Common sense says:

    Has anyone thought of checking cameras in the development and or on rt 9?!? There isn’t much vehicular traffic on Shabbos, even on route 9. Shouldn’t be too difficult to spot a white van coming out of the development or driving down rt 9

  • happened to me says:

    You have some very valid points about us believing that people are good etc.
    However, abduction attempts are not a recent thing. When I was 7 years old I too was almost abducted, on the corner of 5th street and Laurel in the pines. I still remember the car and the couple that came out of the front doors with a bag of lolly pops….I was adorable blonde little girl. perfect target. BH my I was smart and HAD been educated by my parents and I ran with all my might. We did report the story to police of course but they were never found

  • Where is law enforcement says:

    I dont get it. This is a serious dangerous event in town, why is security not beefed up and patrols especially during shabbos when kids are out themselves in the afternoon.

    Where is the outcry, are we more concerned with traffic and overdevelopment, that is when town goes crazy!!

  • Chani says:

    Maybe it is time for developments to pay for security guards at the entrance of developments?

  • David says:

    Why does t Lakewood have Pirchei on Shabbos (and Yom Tov) Growing up in Brooklyn every Neighborhood had Prichei on Shabbos. It would definitely add more structure and supervision rather than have kids just run around the whole Shabbos afternoon from after the Meal until Mincha

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