Jessica Ridgeway: When the answers just aren’t there

Taking something – any lesson or advice – from the disappearance of Jessica Ridgeway (Denver Post articles, 9News info) is tough, but maybe not impossible. When the theater shootings happened, we had a post about how to talk to your kids – but at the time all the immediate answers were there, who did it, what happened, who was hurt, etc.

When Jessica Ridgeway disappeared, a lot of us hoped that she’d be found at a friends house, or would have wandered off, but a week later, I think most of us in our hearts know something bad happened – how bad, what and why still remain unanswered.

Jessica was taken just miles from our house – across a lake we walk around frequently. Her school feeds into the same high school my kids school does. Today our kids are wearing purple for Jessica. I hope it at least brings her family some comfort to see all of the support in our community.

This week has also been my daughter’s week away at Outdoor lab. They made the decision not to talk about the disappearance to the kids who are away from home for 5 days (which I think was very responsible) but it’s been rough – not being in contact for the first time ever with my 11 year old daughter for a week…and this week in particular.

So, as we sit here waiting for answers, with anxiety for our own kids safety growing, what can we do and what can we learn?

Well one of the first responses from our elementary school was a note from the principal reminding everyone to update their information with several phone numbers and emergency contacts. Jessica was missing for a while before they could reach her Mother because she works the graveyard shift and was asleep. While it’s not a time to point any fingers – I know all of us would like to know we could be reached immediately if there was a concern about our kids. So please make sure this information is updated with your school – and talk to them about their policies regarding how and when they contact you and the rest of your emergency list!

And do we panic – never let our kids do anything? Lenore Skenazy of Free Range Kids has her response here. But I have to tell you, it will be a while before I regroup and let my kids walk alone to the park…even with a cell phone.

Hug your kids. Our lives go on and I believe we have to live them fully and not in fear.

So what can we do for Jessica?  Right now they’re still distributing flyers (print attached here).  The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has good resources on how to keep your kids safe and what to do if your child is missing.

If you feel you or your kids need help dealing with this the crisis center Jeffco Mental Health & Jeffco Schools have established a crisis center at Wells Fargo Bldg 7878 N Wadsworth and they are open Saturday 10/13 10am to 4pm. Information on the crisis center is at .


This whole situation breaks my heart. We have allowed our three boys to walk to school together as well as walk home alone together until this week. I haven’t been able to let them do it and don’t know when and if I will be able to. They always have a cell phone with them but not it doesn’t seem to be enough, but I don’t want them to be scared of their neighborhood. I don’t want them to be scared of going out in public. I struggle with how to prepare them for situations without instilling fear into their lives. For now I will continue to hug them and hold them tight and continue to pray for sweet Jessica.

Cara, if your three boys are not scared, than just let them continue on. For one, if this is a stranger abduction, you have little to fear. These type of offenders are preferential. Three boys do not meet this perps needs. Three boys together will be just fine. I know it will be difficult, but as parents we cannot instill our fears in our children. Good Luck.

Thank you for all the links, they are helpful. I am struggling with not overreacting regarding my own kids, but have found myself saying things like “no, you can’t play on the playground while I’m in my meeting”. Not right now anyway – even if there are other kids and they aren’t alone. Not right now.

I, too, am struggling. I tend to be a bit anxious anyway, but this has just made me paranoid. I am glad my son is off track right now, even though I walk him to school anyway since he is so young.
They have a school event coming up for Halloween. But even with that, I will be gone that particular day so I am terrified to let him go with his dad or friend. What if he walks off to say hi to someone and gets lost? But how do I NOT let him go?

Such a hard time for everyone.

Sorry Vicki, but you have major issues, other than this story. You are terrified to let him go with his dad? That is ridiculous. This is a control issue you need to deal with not your son.
This is not a hard time for everyone. It is a hard time for the family and friends of Jessica. Sorry, but when you say things like that about your son’s dad, you lose all sympathy.

Events like this are like nightmares. Like what we see in movies. As a parent, trying to shield our kids while giving them the tools they need to be save – it is a difficult act of balance. Thanks for the links! Always cautious, like Daria, I’ve been saying a bit more of ‘not now.’

To all the parents that are going to keep your kids locked up, restricted, and confined because of Jessica, are doing her memory a disservice.

Do not let this event become more than what it is. My heart and prayers go out to the family and friends, but do not let this become the boogeyman that steals other children’s childhoods.

Striking a balance between appropriate concern and watchfulness for our children’s safety versus the freedom they need to grow and become confident individuals is tough. It is toughened especially because we cannot predict these kinds of events – fortunately they are quite rare, but that rareness lends them an air of randomness, and that is very difficult to deal with.

I think the best advice is to avoid those situations where children are too exposed, too easy of a target. As our local PAR officer loves pointing out: The majority of larceny from vehicles does not involve breaking in: Thieves steal mostly from unlocked vehicles.

So it is with people and children: It is the alone individual, the alone child that becomes an easier target for someone – and too often someone with whom the child is acquainted. I think the best lesson you can teach a child is that they should never be alone with another adult (outside of immediate family).

I concur with Warren: As parents, we cannot instill our fears in our children. Teach them watchfulness, teach them how to recognize potentially dangerous situations, yes. And quietly, behind the scenes, do what we can to ensure that they are not in those dangerous situations.

[…] Jessica Ridgeway, when the answers just aren’t there – too close to home, this little girl was taken from our neighborhood and our children knew about the search. This is the heartache when we found out what happened. […]

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