independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Spectre of the predator has returned for parents

IT was an attack scarcely credible, that will strike fear into the heart of any parent.

We warn children of stranger danger, but it seems almost farcical to think that it might happen in broad daylight, in a residential area and more ludicrous still that it might happen in the middle of a birthday party.

And yet such attacks are not completely unknown.

Just days ago, a court case in Australia heard of an almost identical case, where a five-year-old girl was similarly abducted from a child's birthday party and assaulted in November 2010.

The child had been led away from a backyard family party in Brisbane and, heartbreakingly, the child could hear her distressed family calling out for her after she had been abducted.

Her attacker was jailed for 10 years after an eight-day trial.

Children's celebrations are a time of special dispensation. Even the most diligent parents will shrug their shoulders at the high-jinks and the sugar overload.

Tears and even the odd post-party tantrum are par for the course amid the boisterous mayhem that invariably ensues at any get-together. This, we fondly believe, is the worst that can happen.

The horrifying attack that occurred at the weekend never featured on the landscape of birthday party hazards in the wildest nightmares of parents here – until now.

Heartbreakingly, we learnt that two little girls were lured away from a group playing outside, and brought to a nearby house for sinister and perverse purposes.

The horror and the grief of adults on hearing the news imparted by such innocent young girls can scarcely be imagined as the children were rushed to hospital.

Court proceedings will ensue and the perpetrators will be brought to justice.

But the lives of these two small girls have been violated in a way that leaves us enraged and helpless – and more than a little afraid.

The spectre of the predator has returned.

Such attacks are rare, but that will not stop parents from worrying about the 'maybes'.

Irish Independent

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