I will admit that yesterday was a tough day for me. For much of the day, I followed the Russell Williams court proceedings that hit too close to home for those of us in this part of the country. For those of you who are not aware of the story, Russell Williams was a well-respected colonel in the Canadian Military who committed some atrocious acts, including murder, against women. He also had a fetish for younger girls’ underwear, a fact that wasn’t public until the trial started Monday. Then, last night, a fellow Hockey Mom sent me a link to the news article regarding a serious assault of a 4 year old girl who was taken from a small-town arena bathroom, and later found in a field with serious injuries. She is currently at Sick Kids Hospital.
Events such as these make all of us wonder what kind of evil lurks around every corner. My Hockey Mom friend wanted to share the story as she is well aware that I have my own young children who are often at the arena. She also knows that I can pass the message on to all of you. She sent a well worded message that, “perhaps hockey moms can be reminded to be vigilant”.
The community where the arena incident took place is Woodville, Ontario. Woodville is a small Ontario town, not much different than my own. In fact, my son’s team played Woodville last year in the OMHA semi-finals, and we’ve played them several times in various tournaments. And, if an incident like this can happen in Woodville, it can happen anywhere. We have a sense of safety and security in our small town arenas – probably because we spend so much time there. I’m sure that in Woodville, like in many small Canadian towns, children roam about the arena, being watched over by not only their own family, but also by their hockey family. The scene plays out again and again throughout the country, while older siblings are playing; we try to keep younger siblings busy. In fact, that was the topic of our post last week.
My heart absolutely aches for the little girl and family involved in this horrible incident. In a small town, one would think that your child would be safe going to the washroom in the community arena. But this incident is a reminder that there is evil out there. Lots of it. And, since learning about what happened in Woodville, I have been thinking about my own vigilance with my children at the arena. I, like many of you, could be more vigilant, and in fact, this case demonstrates that I NEED to be more vigilant.
Predators lurk everywhere; even where we would least expect them, even where we feel safe. And, though we SHOULDN’T have to worry about our kids at arenas (or in restaurants, or malls, or wherever), we do need to. At the arena, we need to keep our kids closer to us, especially younger ones. For older children, we need to implement the buddy system. For all children, we need to be aware of where they are at all times in the arena, and we need to be able to see them. And, this incident shows that we can’t let our children go into the bathroom alone. By the way, I’m certainly not blaming the Woodville family for doing this, I’ve let my kids go to the bathroom in the arena themselves many times. What I’m saying is that we just can’t be so trusting of the people in our surroundings, because some of them, maybe those we don’t even know are there, can’t be trusted.
We can say that this is an isolated incident, and perhaps it is. But in my opinion, even one such incident is one too many. My prayers are with the little girl and her family in Woodville, and I know Hockey Moms Across Canada will be sending her your best vibes as well.
Please share this message with the Hockey Moms you know.