Cyber-Bullying: A Deadly Trend among Teens
Two Missing Teens end in Tragedy

Another Missing Teen in San Diego. How do we keep our kids safe?

Chelsea King


Chelsea King is a beautiful, 17 year old girl with her whole life ahead of her.  Chelsea is an honor student at Poway High and a member of the San Diego Youth Symphony. She is a cross country runner, a talented musician and well liked among her peers.  Chelsea was in the midst of choosing a college after her graduation in May of this year but suddenly, she was gone. One day after school Chelsea decided to take a run alone on the trails of Rancho Bernardo Community Park near Lake Hodge.  She has not been seen or heard from since.  Since Chelsea’s disappearance, volunteers and authorities have been vigilantly searching for the teen as far away as San Bernardino and Santa Barbara counties while lifeguards scour the San Diego coast line.  Chelsea’s parents are devastated and are in shock that their beloved daughter is missing.  Dan Schaitel, Chelsea’s cross-country coach, said that “the children are well-versed, especially the girls, to never go on a run by themselves,” So why did Chelsea decide to run on her own even though she knew it wasn’t safe?  Did Chelsea really believe it would be dangerous to run without a companion or did she actually think that nothing bad could happen to her within this seemingly perfect community?

I have lived in San Diego for almost 20 years, and I am consistently amazed with the “it will never happen to me” attitude among the people who live in this county.  I am a parent of two children and from the time they were old enough to understand, my husband and I have drummed into their heads to never walk anywhere by themselves and to never EVER talk to strangers.   I don’t understand the mentality that because we are living in Southern California, life here is as perfect as the weather – NOT.  San Diego is no longer the sleepy bedroom community of 40 years ago where over development, and over population didn’t exist.  San Diego of the past was a small town, a quiet and inexpensive suburbia that exemplified Southern California paradise.  San Diego today is a border city with border city issues.  The flow of guns and drugs has spilled over from our neighbors to the South as well as the increased traffic of undocumented immigrants.  According to a study from the Violent Crimes Institute, 139,000 sex crimes are annually committed by illegal aliens, a demographic that occupies a fair-sized portion of San Diego County. On top of that there are over 115,000 registered sex offenders in California alone, ranking the state as the 9th highest US per Capita (National Sex Offender List).  Information and the residence of these sex offenders are available at http://www.familywatchdog.us

Although statistics are reporting that San Diego’s crime rate has declined in 2009, these numbers are not the impetus for us to leave our doors and windows unlocked and to walk around with our head in the clouds.  Violent crime is still very much a reality in San Diego, and it needs to be taken seriously.

Parents have to take the time to consistently talk to their kids and reinforce that it is dangerous to walk alone and they should always travel within a group, especially in rural and desolate areas.  Teenagers are old enough to responsibly carry a personal protection device such as a pepper spray or mace and use it only when absolutely necessary.  Self defense courses are rarely taught in public schools, and parents have to make it their business to sign their kids up for self-defense classes so that they are prepared to protect themselves if faced with a potentially violent situation. Jennifer Johnson, founder of Heat Self Defense in San Diego, is dedicated to empowering girls and women through mental and physical self defense training that could someday save their lives.  Jennifer is an ex-cop who holds a degree in Criminal Justice Degree at Sacramento State University, and she truly believes in giving young women and girls the tools to learn how to be confident and powerful without living in fear.  Visit www.heatselfdefense.com to learn more about Jennifer’s self defense techniques.  Stingergirlz will schedule an entire blog dedicated to Jennifer, her self defense classes and what motivates her to help teach women and girls on how to protect themselves.

Even the nicest areas aren't safe, and the disappearance of Chelsea should at the very least serve as a wake-up call that we are not in Kansas anymore.  This article is not to bash San Diego, but only an attempt to remind people that whether you live in a small town, big city, or a rural community, we should never forget that predators are everywhere and we cannot let our guard down for a minute.  Remember the brutal home invasion murder of Kimberly Cates in the tiny rural town of Nashua, New Hampshire last fall?  The community was shocked that such a horrific crime could happen in their quiet and safe neighborhood.  Kimberly, 42 was viciously stabbed in her head, arms and torso, and her 11 year old daughter sustained critical stab wounds that required hours of surgery.  This killing was a random act in which the attackers had no connection to the victims.  John Quinlan, chairman of the Mont Vernon Board of Selectmen, said "Serious crime, particularly murder," Quinlan said, "is something that doesn't happen here, something you always see on television happening somewhere else. He also continued to state "I know that's an old thing to say about small-town America, but it really is true."  Is it really true?  I don’t think so. 

Small Town America is a concept of the past, just like Leave it to Beaver, Howdy Doody, and 5 cent cokes.    Our world is a very different place than the idyllic image of American suburbia with the white picket fence and mom always home to welcome her family with a hug and a hot meal on the table.  The 21st Century brings a brand new reality of both parents working, latch-key kids coming home to an empty house, fast-food dinners and very little family time.  Children today have too much freedom because there is no parent or guardian home to enforce rules and to set boundaries.

Face-to-face communication is also slowly becoming extinct and replaced by email, texting, and social networking applications.  In my opinion that as society becomes more isolated from social interaction, the less there will be empathy and compassion for each other as human beings.  We are living in a world of technology where emotions and feelings are dictated by make believe characters in which fighting, shooting and killing is the major preoccupation.  Our reactions to violence have become desensitized to the point where we don’t even believe it is real anymore but only a computer game where no one really gets hurt.  Violent crimes could never happen to us because it doesn’t exist.  But on the contrary, technology has opened the door to a whole new range of issues such as sexting, cyber stalking and bullying allowing predators into our home by way of the internet.  Children now can be harassed 24/7 on a global level without ever leaving their room.  Unless parents educate themselves on the signs that their child may be a victim of cyber crime, it could lead to a deadly conclusion such as depression and suicide.

As a mother my heart goes out to Chelsea King’s parents, and please let us not forget Amber   Dubois, the teenager who disappeared a year ago while walking to school by herself. The descriptions of these two girls are:

· Chelsea has strawberry blond hair, blue eyes, 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighs about 115 pounds.

· Amber Dubois has brown short/medium hair, blue eyes, 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighs about 125 pounds from the time of her disappearance.


 As I am writing this article, evidence has been found that has led to the arrest of registered sex-offender, 30 year old John Albert Gardner who resides in Lake Elsinore, 75 miles north of San Diego County. Chelsea has still yet to be found after 1,400 volunteers and 100 law enforcement agents searched on Sunday, February 28, 2010.

 Let us all keep our eyes open, our ears listening and our hearts praying for these two young women to come home safe and sound.  No parent should ever have to experience the horror of their child gone missing, and through communication, education, training and planning, none of us should ever have to lose a child to kidnapping or a violent crime ever again.  If you would like to learn more on how you can protect yourself and your family, visit http://www.meganslaw.ca.gov/protect.htm



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