Jenni Cousens left her son, Cody, jumping on a trampoline in the backyard Monday while she went to fix her children lunch. When she heard a knock at the front door, Cousens opened it to a beaming Cody.
According to the Daily Mercury, when she asked what he was doing out front, the 6-year-old told her:
“[A] nice man had come into the yard and helped him from the trampoline, saying ‘would you like to come play with some puppies? Wait here at the front of the fence while I go get them.'”
Cousens’s heart “sank,” as she quickly pulled Cody inside before phoning the police.
Cody, who has been “taught everything about stranger danger,” was still entranced by the idea of puppies and he was nearly abducted because of it.
Cousens, sick to her stomach because of what could have happened, posted her story to her Facebook page:
She wrote, in part:
I’ve done this as a warning to other parents like me who think your child is secure and will be ok for 5 minutes while you just …….. fix them something to eat! Or go to the toilet or change a babies nappy! Those of us especially living in small communities that kids of various ages are out and about playing, riding their bikes and out of your sight playing with the neighbours kids etc (especially during school holidays). I’ve learnt today unfortunately it’s not ok, I’m sick in the stomach with all the what if scenarios, I feel like the worst parent in the world!
Despite the fact that Cousens and her husband have taught Cody about “not talking to strangers or believing stories from people he doesn’t know,” the near abduction still happened.
She can’t help but wonder what would have happened if Cody hadn’t come knocking on the door. She couldn’t help but ponder, “would we still have him today?”
While Cousens believed her children were adequately prepped to confront stranger danger, she wants to make sure no other parents have to endure the paranoia and fear she now faces.
Independent Journal Review previously reported on Pattie Fitzgerald, creator of Safely Ever After, who has helped define a “safe adult.” She explained that an example of a safe adult “is one who won’t ask a child for help.”
Fitzgerald encourages parents to “never leave young children unsupervised … not even for a minute.” This is a lesson Cousens now takes to heart, saying:
“I feel like now I have to have all three kids by my side every waking second, when I’m getting dressed, going to the toilet, is that how we have to live now?”
Additionally, developing “strong communication” skills and trusting your instincts are important to keep your child safe. Just spending time with your children can help — children who are “starved for attention” are especially vulnerable to predators.
Police haven’t yet caught the suspect, but Cousens is being vigilant in spreading awareness. Her post has been shared nearly 5,000 times, with hundreds of comments. She said: “I just wanted to tell other parents to be careful, so no one has to feel like we do right now, or perhaps even worse.”