Day 20 — To Leash or not to Leash

James Patrick Bulger

The subject of child safety harnesses – or more casually known as leashes – came up this morning on one of the radio shows I do traffic for. The hosts took calls from listeners giving their views, and it seemed the pros and cons for leashing were about even. Some folks see it as animalistic, while others swear by leashes, especially in crowded areas such as the San Diego County Fair (going on now), not to mention amusement parks of any kind, where sometimes kids get so excited that they – yes, like 4-legged creatures – bolt.

Had I decided to become a parent, I would have definitely fallen into the leash camp. Nothing drives my decision more than the 1993 abduction, torture and murder of 2-year-old James Patrick Bulger. I remember the story vividly; he was with his mother Denise at the New Strand Shopping Centre in Bootle, not far from his home in Liverpool, England. Denise was distracted for a moment while placing an order at the butcher shop in the mall. Two 10-year-old boys, Robert Thompson and Ben Venables saw the toddler near the door, took his hand and led him away. This action was caught on security cameras set up in the mall.

I can’t bear to go into the horrific details of young James’ murder, but I would venture to believe that if Denise Bulger could go back in time to February 12, 1993, she would have gladly had her young son attached to a leash of some sort, no matter what kind of disapproving glances she got from others.

Months after the trial, Denise and her husband had another little boy, but soon after that, their marriage collapsed. This news didn’t surprise me, as even the strongest of marriages can be threatened when your world is turned upside down. I had also heard that at one point, Denise, so distraught from her son’s death, had even tried committing suicide. “Of course she did,” was my reaction, “Who could blame her?”

But back to the initial subject of whether or not to leash your child, if you choose not to, that is your prerogative; but to cast judgment on a parent who chooses that method of keeping their child safe, is unfair and intrusive.

“Leashes are for dogs,” some spout, while others advise, “Just hold your child’s hand or put them in a stroller!” If that works for you and your child, fine; but many children fight having to hold hands with their parents, while others detest even more, being confined to a stroller. A child safety harness allows a child to roam, hands-free, but within feet of the attached parent. What is so horrible about that?

A very sobering fact is that children of all ages are abducted everyday; and although you can’t keep a leash on your child forever – I’m sure many parents would love that – when they are especially small, it only seems logical to me.

Having children is a personal choice, and how you choose to keep them safe once they are here is just as personal. There are many stresses in life, so if a safety harness for your child helps to alleviate some of that stress, I am all for it. If people insist upon glaring disapprovingly, or worse yet, vocalizing their sentiments, just tell them to either mind their own business, or better yet, to Google “James Patrick Bulger.”

About kdanek17

A work in progress. Radio personality and voiceover artist. I love cooking, entertaining, and being with friends & family (which includes my dogs).
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3 Responses to Day 20 — To Leash or not to Leash

  1. Sue sila says:

    Kudos to you Kelly! I used “leashes” on my daughters over 40 years ago. Now, you can get them that look like animal backpacks, but they are really hard to find. It would be a great little business to start!! Just try finding a local store to buy a leash. Thank of for sharing our thoughts on this.

  2. kdanek17 says:

    That is awesome, Sue! Yet one more thing we Scorpio sisters agree upon; keeping our children (2-legged & 4-legged) safe is the utmost priority.

  3. Madelyn says:

    My Mom kept a harness on my older brother because he was hyperactive, and a ‘runner’. When people told her she was an awful human being for harnessing her child she would just tell them ‘great, YOU try to control him’.

    Years later my friend put a harness on her little girl after the child almost ran into traffic. When my friend pulled her back to safety so abruptly it dislocated her little girls shoulder. Wouldn’t any sane person say it was better to harness her?!

    My vote is to by all means harness your kid if you can’t keep them safe any other way!

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