Child Predators Hurt More Than Just The Child (OP-ED)

I rarely speak personally. While other writers and editors here at AI will introduce themselves in to an article, I hold myself apart to try to keep an objective viewpoint. Once in a while, however, one runs across a story which strikes too deep, and I have to comment about it.

Earlier this week I did an article on a child predator, Lisa Biron of Manchester, New Hampshire. It brought back a lot of not so pleasant memories.

I grew up in New Hampshire, the town of Stratham. Due to a quirk of the New Hampshire educational system, I was bussed to the nearby town of Exeter for school, to the Lincoln Street Elementary School. One of my classmates was a quiet girl named Tammy Belanger who happened to have a lazy eye, making her self conscious. Being different was never good in school, I knew that myself, being one of the students bussed in from another town.

On November 13th, 28 years ago, she failed to show up at school. I was curious that morning, she was never sick, but before noon the word had already begun spreading through the school. Tammy had vanished walking to school that morning. The manhunt to find her lasted for months, but despite the effort, no sign of her had ever appeared. A suspect was found, also a suspect in another girls disappearance in Florida a few months prior, but lack of evidence did not result in him being charged.

The devastation to the family cannot be imagined. The devastation to her classmates also could not be imagined. One of us was gone, taken from us without a sign. When one of us was home sick, the whispers began, was it another? The innocence of childhood vanished for all of us, we knew we were not invulnerable.

Many of us when we did have children of our own became far more cautious. I fear we might have stifled our children’s social ability. But deep down we still remembered Tammy, the silly smile and laugh from the tallest girl in class. We did not want to lose our own children as her family did. Selfish of us, I suppose.

Once in a while, stories about people long ago kidnapped being discovered still alive and returned make the news. Deep down I hope for that for Tammy, despite knowing in my head it is incredibly doubtful and if she is alive, she would have been through a hell none of us can even imagine. But there remains that hope, always there. And the reason for that hope for me is not completely selfless, I feel horrid that I did not appreciate her while she was there.

Of course being children we had childish issues. I swear she was the one who spat into the back of my head while I was stuck in the playground once. Could never prove or confirm it, but I did hear her laugh behind me after I felt the spittle hit. At the time, I was angry. Now, I would give anything to hear that laugh again, even if it meant having someone spit in my hair.

The damage caused by whomever took Tammy to her classmates can never be fully restored. The man the police suspected is now almost 90, and has spent most of his life behind bars, for a variety of arrests ranging from home burglary to molestation of his step-daughter. He is suspected in several other disappearances in both New Hampshire and Florida. But we do not know of hisĀ involvement, and he has been on the record denying involvement. I don’t care about him, to be honest. I care about Tammy, to know once and for all what happened to her.

If you happen to know anything about Tammy, please contact the New Hampshire Cold Case Unit. As always, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is a website to keep an eye on.

As for Lisa Biron, she has no clue of the damage she has done, not only to the innocent children she preyed upon, but to the community in which those children lived. Events like this reverberate through the neighborhood, the schools, the children’s peer group, leaving emotional scars which will plague them for the rest of their lives. The damage done to children is often times overlooked as they stay silent. This cycle of silence must end sometime, let that time be now.