This morning I read an article on The Examiner (gag) entitled, "How the murder of Adam Walsh changed parenting." I guess we need to be reminded every year around this time that John Walsh still needs our money.
The article is a laundry list of the many things the Adam Walsh murder has caused. The most notable effect is the paranoid over "predators." I usually make a short response to articles I read, but today I felt the need to write a longer diatribe.
Below is my response:
I have to dispel a few myths here. The Etan Patz case preceded Walsh (although Walsh was more successful at making a career of it) but there was already a paradigm shift occurring at this time.
1. The "war on crime" was shifting the correctional system philosophy from rehabilitation to the incapacitation/ containment model. As such, the belief was criminals were "monsters" and can't be cured. This belief obviously extended to "sex offenders."
2. The feminist movement, in a strange marriage with Evangelical Christians, formed a sexual counterrevolution, and the focus on "child abuse" (at the time both physical and sexual) as a natural extension of rape awareness served a common goal for both groups.
3. After the groundbreaking (and later proven fraudulent) book "Michelle Remembers" was published, there was a belief in Satanic Ritual Abuse and "repressed memory syndrome." Couple it with the belief of vast underground "pedophile" networks that were reinforced with the FBI raids on "NAMBLA," people were already beginning to fear invisible sexual abusers by 1981. In fact, in John Walsh's own book "Tears of Rage," the police he was working with were discussing alleged "pedophile networks" with him (which was irrelevant, and the NAMBLA searches of the time were fruitless, and one member was falsely accused of being responsible for the Etan Patz disappearance). Walsh became so paranoid that he believed every death threat ever made against him was attributed to "pedophiles." In addition, the mantra at the time was "believe the children at any cost," even when the cost included coercive interrogation tactics by overzealous social workers and law enforcement agencies, or stories about abuse include rocketships, underground catacombs, and Chuck Norris.
4. Awareness campaigns were already creating a new breed of activist-- the "victims' rights advocate." There were plenty of victim groups in existence, pushing for legislation changes and raising awareness. Walsh was taught how to be a victim advocate by others, but Walsh learned how to make a career of it.
John Walsh wasn't the originator of Predator Panic, but he was still very influential in feeding us lies. He lied before Congress claiming 50,000 "mutilated, decapitated, raped, and strangled" children were dying every year. He got very, very rich propagating panic to our society. Lets not forget that Walsh had pushed to name Toole the killer for years, despite no evidence of involvement other than Toole's recanted statements (it does not make Toole any less of a bad man, since he made the claims to troll Walsh).
Ironically, the NCMEC teaches AGAINST the "stranger danger" myth. They are aware that most sexual abuse takes place in the home, with someone the victim knows, and most of them aren't on some list. And despite Walsh's claims before Congress, studies found that only 115 out of 71+million kids experience a "stereotypical kidnapping,' the type you see on the nightly news.
Lets be honest. The only thing Walsh ever accomplished is getting rich at the expense of other people. We are a more fearful society as the result of his lies. Paranoid people keep their kids inside (despite our streets being relatively safe, at least more so than the 1970s and 1980s), where they sit in front of TVs watching ads, eating fatty/ sugary foods, and watching more fearmongering propaganda.
The Adam Walsh Act has led to placing over 730,000 people on the sex offender registries, some as young as age 10. We are ruining the lives of thousands of our young people in Adam's name. Today we have more fear from being labeled a sexual predator than encountering one.
(I would like to point out the alleged popularity of the registry is a myth. Less than a fourth of the population ever look at the registry, and of those, most do so out of curiosity rather than fear. Many who utilize the registry are members of online vigilante groups.)
Has Adam Walsh changed parenting? Yes-- It changed parenting for the worse.