My daughter is now 10 but I well remember the hapless, mischievous wobbly toddler she was eight years ago. So when two year old Aisling Symes went missing earlier this month only to be tragically found a week later in an underground drain, it struck a raw nerve, as it did seemingly with every parent in the country.
Why? Because it could have happened to anyone of us and we can never blame Aisling’s mother for what she will blame herself for.
We all know that children are natural explorers and when you put them down somewhere they seldom stay put. But usually they are like kittens, and we fierce mother lions, and they never stray too far.
I was a ferocious lioness who watched her child like a hawk but even I have ‘lost’ my daughter because when she wanted to go, she went and when did she was extremely quick and very, very quiet! I am not a bad parent rather a lucky one that her curiosity took her around a supermarket, not a street!
The panic and horror Aisling’s parents went through for that week is not the kind of shoes anyone of us would ever care to walk in. And while we can only imagine Aisling’s last day here, no words or actions or recriminations will bring her back.
However there is one burning issue in my mind and perhaps a lesson we can learn …….
The question: – Why would the police seemingly buy-in to the abduction theory so quickly?
Why didn’t they look further into the drain on day one? Surely if the potential for the child to fall in was there, which we’re assuming was why they looked there in the first place, they would have thoroughly searched the entire drain, not just 5 metres either side of the manhole.
This seems all the more bizarre given the drain was so close to her home and she’d only been out of her mothers site for 5 minutes.
To the uneducated outsider, it appears the abduction scenario seemed more ‘plausible’ for the police. No doubt, the report of an Asian woman being in the area further escalated the situation.
So why is that?
I can only hope that information was distorted in the hysteria, rather than police knowing the potential for child abduction was likely.
None of us can deny there is too much brutal crime. Missing people, other than those on an outdoor adventure, are quickly thought of as victims of foul play …. and all too often are.
We live in a society where crime is high, mindless and plain cruel. Police know all to well there are brutal criminals living in our neighbourhoods. There is no shortage of recent tragic stories of criminals bringing more pain and suffering when released early from the prison. Recidivism levels are high. The system is, and has for a long time, failed.
In the streets why have fisti-cuffs escalated into brutal “kick a man to death even though he is already unconscious” animalistic behavior? Why do people abduct children; murder, rape and torture each other?
We rely on our police to protect us, but it seems the laws do not help them to do this.
While Aisling Symes now rests in peace and her parents grieve the loss of their beautiful daughter and the future they had planned with her, we can learn again the lesson that life is precious, it can be taken away in an instant. And it can happen without fault or blame.
But we are also reminded that there is ill in our society where crime pays and we live in fear.
As a community you can do a lot in supporting each other.
Action that makes a difference:-
1. As an individual you have power to make a difference by having your say. Vote, be heard! http://www.elections.org.nz/enrolment/how-to-enrol/
2. Support organization’s like the Sensible Sentencing Trust who apply pressure as a group to pressure the government for change. http://www.safenz.org.nz/
3. Politician’s are accessible. Write to them (they will reply). Tell them how important a safe community is for you and your neighbours. http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/MPP/MPs/
4. Get to know your neighbours. It just takes one proactive person to start to build a community that looks out for each other. http://www.police.govt.nz/safety/home.neighbourhoodsupport.html
Rest in Peace Aisling. Your life will be remembered by many. I did not know you, but you wakened a community to the fragility of life, to the dangers and to our strengths.