I struggled with the idea of writing a blog about Maddy. I have been trying to process through this just as many of you are. It has been horrific, scary and so very sad. My decision to write came down to families. This event has rattled many families and helping parents understand how to process can be helpful.
Instagram posts by Adrian are being picked apart. Many posted horrendous messages in regard to what they would like to happen to him. There were so many that his account was taken down. One thing is clear that this young man suffered from anxiety and depression. One post questions if he would ever find anyone to love him. There was an essence of someone that couldn’t let someone go; a bit of obsessive comments in regard to someone he cared for.
On the surface these posts could be any teenager’s posts. I have seen many comparable posts by multiple teens and even adults. There is no glaring evidence that this young man is dangerous or extremely unstable. He presents as a depressed, anxious teen, which sadly to say is pretty common place. That, I believe, is the most unnerving.
There are multiple unanswered questions. More details will come out and we will see a broader picture of circumstances in time. However, the sad truth is that we will never truly understand what went wrong. We can see factors and correlations, but it will never make sense.
Many in the Tannery Community will, no doubt, second guess themselves. They may wonder if they missed signs that this young kid showed or if they did something different if they could have stopped the crime. We can only do the best we can with the information that we have. The community had multiple years of evidence that this kid was not harmful. They had a safe community.
The sad truth is that most child sexual assault is not perpetrated by a stranger but by someone that the child knows and is familiar with: family, friends, and acquaintances. There is not a “typical” offender that we can warn our children against. How can we feel safe after such after a glaring example? How can we keep our kids and grandkids safe? These are the questions that come up for many.
As parents and grandparents we need to be careful to not increase the anxiety in the children around us. The media coverage has been graphic and consistent. There are videos posted all over the internet. Everyone is talking about it and looking for answers. We need to be aware that we and our children can experience secondary trauma by being bombarded with these reports. Anxiety can be heightened and fear becomes an issue for children. It is horrific enough that many have heard a child was murdered by another child.
What can you do as Parents and Grandparents?
- Be mindful when children are in the room. Turn off TV, computers and phones that are discussing the case. You can always do a search later for this information.
- Recognize your own level of anxiety. Reach out to your support system to process. Don’t process verbally in front of your children.
- Take time to care for yourself and your needs. Increase you self-care and the self-care of your family. Engage in activities that you all enjoy or are creative.
- Allow your child space to grieve and process. Encourage them to draw, write stories, donate to a women’s shelter to help other children or send a card to Maddy’s mom.
- If your children are anxious help them articulate what they are afraid of- walk them through it. Help them see the reality of the situation vs. the fear they are experiencing. By helping them talk about what they are anxious about you can lower their anxiety.
- Talk about safety with your children. Brainstorm together things that they can do to stay safe. Go over basic safety rules:
-Do not go with anyone unless you check in with a parent, even if you know the person.
-Always be clear about where, what and with who you are.
-If anyone make you feel uncomfortable in any way talk to your parent.
-Trust your instincts in situations to keep you safe.
The best that we can do is to pay attention to behavior of those that are in our circle exhibit around children. Trust our instincts. Teach our children basic safety. We need to be careful that we don’t let this tragic event stop us from sharing in the lives of others. All we can do is do the best we can.