Ask any parent what their worst nightmare is, and chances are high that stranger abduction is right at the top of the list. Thankfully, for most moms, that nightmare will never become a reality. But for one California mother, it almost did.
More: Toddler’s burn raises warning that metal slides aren’t the only summer danger
A viral surveillance video that’s sure to make any parent’s stomach drop to their toes is making the rounds today after a man tried to snatch a 4-year-old away in broad daylight with her mother just a few feet away.
In it, a young mother enters a cellphone store in Victorville, California, with her two children — one in her arms, and the other, the 4-year-old kidnap-attempt victim, just steps behind her, playing with a candy machine near the store’s front door. Suddenly the door opens, and the man, Terry Ransom, makes a grab for the little girl. Within seconds he has her out the door. Her mother and another customer don’t hesitate to give chase.
Fortunately the little girl puts up one hell of a fight, and her alleged would-be abductor loses his grip on her. In the next moment, she’s safe with her mother again, clinging to her leg and terrified. Since then, Ransom has been taken into police custody on suspicion of kidnapping and child cruelty.
More: This bizarre attack on breastfeeding hurts moms and their kids
It’s a terrifying moment, one that seems almost too scary to be possible, as was the case just a few weeks ago in a foiled abduction of a 13-year-old girl in Florida. What both these stories have in common isn’t just the incredible strength and bravery of the mothers who didn’t hesitate to fight for their child’s life — the Florida mother fought the abductor until he let go of her daughter, and the mother in this video rockets after the man with her younger child still in her arms — but also the unwillingness of bystanders to be idle.
In this case, it’s the customer in line behind the terrified mother, the shopkeepers who headed out toward the commotion and the people who held Ransom down so the police could take him into custody. This man thought he could act with impunity, and the entire community smacked down that notion without a second thought.
It would be so, so easy to only remember the horrific parts of this video. Certainly they’re playing in our minds in an awful, stomach-churning loop. It can be so tempting sometimes to retreat inside and lock all the doors because of the reprehensible actions of a few people. But this is a world we have to live in, and it’s one we have to teach our children to live in too. There’s a healthy amount of fear that keeps people cautious: Thank goodness the little girl in this video knew to put up a fight and make a ruckus.
But it’s ill-advised to allow that fear to dictate how we live our lives. It’s worth remembering that when things get really bad, there is yet more good to squash it out. That’s what happened here. The little girl is thankfully unharmed, though she will have some healing to do — you don’t just carry on as usual when something so scary happens. But kids are resilient, and hopefully one day the man who caused her harm will occupy a much smaller space in her mind than the people who stepped in to keep her safe and get her justice.