In today’s world, personalization is the name of the game. Whether it’s your workspace, your cell phone, or your social media profile, it is likely that you’ve customized something to reflect the uniqueness of “you.”
Vehicles are often personalized to reflect the interests and lifestyle of the driver. Gym memberships, political leanings, music preferences, favorite restaurants – you name it, and there’s probably a window cling or bumper sticker for it. On my daily commute, I often find myself surrounding by people who live near me and have the same work schedules and travel routes. I know this not because we’ve ever met or spent time together, but because their vehicles have identifying stickers. The ones I find disturbing are the ones that include information on the driver’s children. It’s not unusual to see stick figure window clings for each member of the house alongside stickers for their interests: a daughter who takes dance and is enrolled in a certain gymnastics organization; a son who is an accelerated reader at a certain elementary school and plays youth football with a certain league. In some instances, the children’s names are included in fun fonts over their stick figure or along with their activity.
To these people, I ask the following question: Have you searched the sex offender registry for your zip code lately? Try it. There is probably someone on the registry living near you or along your daily commute. Additionally, there is probably someone who is not on the registry but should be who is living near you or along your daily commute. Your vehicle is telling them – and everyone else you pass in traffic each day – all about your children. With a Facebook profile or workspace, there is a certain amount of privacy that is either inherent or optional; unfortunately, it is impossible to add privacy controls to your vehicle. Is letting the world know that your child is an honor student worth putting him or her at risk?
At Darkness to Light, we stress that over 90% of child sexual abuse is committed by people children know or trust. However, the portion committed by strangers is still significant. Don’t give anyone the ability to become more than a stranger to your little loved ones. The more you personalize, the more you tell the world the story of not only you, but of your children.