Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Child Molester

Wednesday, December 1, 2010 09:35 AM

This is the complete version of a post I sent over to Kindertrauma.  The following story is true.  The names have been changed to protect me from libel suits, but you know who you are!

Something so frightening happened to me as a child that for most of my life I  wondered  it was real or not. I was in a strange school's cafeteria with my mother. Instead of the happy, playful atmosphere that I had associated with places like this, it was grim and foreboding.There were other kids and mothers there, but no one I knew.  Mom kept me close to her side and I felt very alone.

Part of my anxiety came from the fact that I had no idea why we were there. The other part was from the look on Mom's face.  She had her “You're in trouble” look on her face.  Had I done something wrong?  Was I going to be punished in this frightening place?  

I was half right, I hadn't done anything wrong, but what I was about to experience was so frightening that it would seem like punishment. I think  Mom was concerned about what we were both about to go through and it showed on her face.

We were there to see a movie about two little girls who took candy from a stranger and got into his car.   A fat and greasy man kidnapped two little girls while they played by enticing them with candy. He took them to the woods and after satisfying his monstrous desires, killed them. The ending was the most horrifying thing I had ever seen; the girls' bodies lay, sprawled on the ground, looking like lumps of bloody meat wrapped in children's clothing. The tiny actors were dressed like real murder victims, whose bloody crime scene photographs were used.  The bloodied children's corpses drove home the point that THIS WAS NOT JUST A MOVIE, it was real.

This was why our  mothers were there, to calm the hysterical children after the most frightening experience of our young lives.  Although I am certain many of them had nightmares themselves.

I was never sure if this actually happened or was one of the frightening dreams I was prone to, until I found it by accident on the Internet. My recollections were correct, even down to the clothes the children wore. The movie was called The Child Molester, a public service announcement made by the Highway Safety Foundation in 1964, the year I was born. What I attended with Mom was evidently a traveling roadshow, where the film went from town to town to educate parents and children about the dangers of talking to strangers.

Just what every six-year-old needs to see.

The movie had one major flaw, its purpose was to frighten children away from a phantom terror.  Most children are abused by someone known to them, a relative or trusted family friend.  It makes national news when a stranger does it. When it is Mr. Battles on Linwood Avenue, it barely gets a mention on the local news, so great is the community's shame.

The Child Molester did its job well; forty years later, I am still queasy about taking candy from strangers on the street and I seldom allow myself to be driven to isolated places in the woods by them. If any parents are worried about these things happening to their children, they may want to consider showing it to them.

I found the movie at the Internet Archive, where it can be streamed or downloaded for free.

3 comments:

Toon said...

..." forty years later, I am still queasy about taking candy from strangers on the street and I seldom allow myself to be driven to isolated places in the woods by them."

Gave me a laugh. Got here via Kindertrauma.

SteveAsat said...

Okay, now I can't even watch the new episode of Marble Hornets because nothing they could possibly do will be half as upsetting and traumatic as this. If I had seen this as a kid I probably would have been hysterical for weeks.

Michael Williams said...

Thanks for the comments; I am always telling my wife that I am the funny one and she is the pretty one.

Now I have to check out Marble Hornets, I m intrigued