Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Friday, December 4, 2009

Vigilance Is Still Our Best Defense

Crimes of opportunity. They can happen at any time, and anywhere, if the opportunity is there. We can't be inside the head of all those around us. We have to have faith in our intuition, our gut feelings, and practice personal safety based on our life experiences. Companies screen their employees, but the screening does not scan the prospects mind, and thoughts. Hopefully, a through interview, and background check will remove much of the worry.

Then again...

Recently, here in town, we had a crime of opportunity occur, a young boy was sexually assaulted inside the changing room at JC Penny's by a JC Penny employee. This just did not happen on the fly. It wasn't a spur of the moment act, it had been waited for. The exact conditions had to be present, and this time they were.

Could it have been prevented? I don't know. Could more have been done to make it harder for the perpetrator to do? Yes.

Changing rooms are known for being places where shoplifters hide their booty, and those that have that inclination toward sexual assault stake them out, and if the predator is an employee, then all they have to do is wait. Wait for when the circumstances are right.

Last week, it was right for this employee.

Most stores that have a changing area have a person assigned to the area to monitor the traffic , limit the amount of goods brought inside, and to be sure that the area is safe. At JC Penny here in Sturbridge there wasn't such a person.

A couple of weeks ago we went to Penny's, and Mary used the changing room for a few minutes. I hung around a few feet outside the area. There was no employee monitoring the changing area. No employee in the area where I was making sure I wasn't up to something.

We both thought this was strange for a large department store not to monitor the changing rooms, but they are not to blame for the act. The employee is totally to blame, but access was made easier by the lack of security.

The whole episode should be an eye opener for all of us. Since we cannot be inside of the head of the person next to us, we must be aware all the time. Be alert, don't take chances with ourselves, or assume our children are fine in environments that one would think they would be.

Of course, lessons will be learned. People will be more vigilant. We can do little to stop those that prey from preying, but we can do a great deal to to stop them from from acting. We will not stop it all, but vigilance will make a difference.

Making a difference, like in so many other things, can help, and does work.

As for the young boy, and his family, I wish I could find the right words to make things better, but I can't, but know that you are in all of our thoughts as justice is sought.

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