James Bulger: Deadly 7 seconds
Photo Courtesy of: Bulger family
SEVEN SECONDS. The difference between life and death. Denise Bulger let go of her two-year-old’s hand for just seven seconds while she fumbled in her purse in the butcher shop to pay for that night’s dinner. And, in those fateful seconds, James Bulger just vanished.
The little boy wandered away in the Liverpool shopping mall and was grabbed by two nine-year-old sadists who took him to a railway embankment, sexually assaulted him and then bludgeoned him to death with an iron bar.
Then they placed his battered body across the tracks so he would be cut in half and it might look like an accident.
Last year, on the 20th anniversary of James Bulger’s murder, I interviewed his mother, Denise, for the Sunday Night program and walked through that shopping mall and along the railway line. It was one of the most emotional assignments I’ve ever been on.
What kept, and keeps, coming back to me (as it has for her over the decades) was the fact that there were just seconds between life and death for little James Bulger.
Denise Bulger blamed herself. Her drunken husband blamed her. But every parent knows how quickly it could happen. How kids are like quicksilver.
True, and thankfully, there are not going to be little monsters lurking – like the ones who went looking for a victim in Merseyside that day when James Bulger died – but these days, the fear of predator paedophiles is very real for all parents.
(Tomorrow is Daniel Morcombe Day in memory of another boy who was abducted and killed while waiting at a bus stop. His parents didn’t know what happened to him for 13 years).
child protection device
The issue is in the news again today with the launch of a new child protection device. A new smart phone app called SkyNanny. It’s a tracking device so you can know at all times where your child is, especially if they wander away at the beach or shopping centre.
I think it is a great contribution to child safety and happily agreed to launch the project and be the SkyNanny ambassador.
As I joked to the NewsLtd reporter: ‘I probably know more about tracking devices than most people because I wore one for five months’.
(That was when I wore an electronic ankle bracelet while under house arrest for breaching suppression orders by naming two convicted sex offenders.)
Inventor Jason Petch said he decided to create the app after he lost his daughter, Lucy, on a Victorian beach three years ago.
‘Even though I only lost her for five minutes, they were the most terrifying five minutes of my life.’
sad, if predictable, results
As part of the SkyNanny launch, Petch commissioned a public survey which came up with some sad, if predictable, results.
The poll showed that nearly a quarter of Australian males would not help a lost child for fear they would be viewed as a pervert.
Another 45 per cent said it would cross their mind that someone might interpret their actions as inappropriate, but if a child was in ‘great distress’ they would go to their aid.
It wouldn’t cross my mind but the fear is there for many. And, according to some Twitter critics today, it’s all my fault.
‘The irony of you being shocked at that statistic is pretty hilarious given you're one of those peddling that fear’.
And ‘You shouldn't be surprised by the survey. Your type of fear mongering is much of the reason why’.
Talk about ‘shoot the messenger’. I didn’t create the climate. The climate created me.