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A Stolen Life - Jaycee Lee Dugard memoir

Life In Texas: A Stolen Life - Jaycee Lee Dugard memoir

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Stolen Life - Jaycee Lee Dugard memoir

     If for some reason, you don't know who Jaycee Lee Dugard is, let me give you the cliff notes version.

     Jaycee Lee Dugard was kidnapped in 1991 at the age of 11. Although suspicion was originally cast on her step-father, he was later cleared. Days turned to weeks. Weeks turned to months and then months turned to years. With no leads, the case went cold. However, Jaycee was still out there. She was held in the backyard of Phillip and Nancy Garrido. She had two children with Phillip in that time. Phillip was on parole and officers were in the house regularly. There are no records of them ever entering the back yard. Even when Jaycee and her daughters were moved into the main house, the parole officers didn't find it suspicious that a registered sex offender had preteen/teenage girls in his house. It was the suspicions of two UC Berkeley police officers that lead to Dugard's discovery and freedom.

     Now, the reason for my post. I just finished reading Jaycee's memoir. Apparently it came out in July, but since I live in podunk, our library didn't get their one copy until mid-September and then I had to wait my turn. Here are my thoughts on the book (while attempting to not give away too much for those of you who haven't read it).

     1. She has nothing nice to say about her step-father in the entire book. If other people think that he treated her as poorly as she did, I'm not surprised that he was a suspect. That, and he saw her being abducted.

     2. A large portion of the book feels like it was written as a child. Now remember, she was kidnapped at age 11 (5th grade) and had no education beyond that. At first, I thought that this was the reason that it felt that way. Then I got to the chapter entitled Discovery and Reunion and it started to feel more adult. As I progressed through the last few chapters, it felt more and more mature. Here is my thought on that; she was writing exactly what she remembered from her experiences. As graphic and horrific as it is, she was typing her thoughts as she remembered them happening. Therefore, we are really starting the novel listening to 11 year old Jaycee. Not 30 year old Jaycee telling us about 11 year old Jaycee. This makes the book come alive more, but it also makes it seem more tragic.

     3. There is a Reflections section at the end of each chapter. She reflects on what the previous chapter contained. Sometimes, there is more info here or it's 30 year old Jaycee further explaining what she thinks she felt (if that makes sense).

     It is a good but heart wrenching book. If you were at all interested in this case, I would recommend reading it. However, I would suggest having a box of tissues close by because you're going to need them. I know I did. Almost every chapter made me cry.

     Now, here are some facts on child abduction in the United States. This list was compiled from several reliable sources by Parents Magazine.

  • Every 40 seconds in the United States, a child becomes missing or is abducted.
  • Based on the identity of the perpetrator, there are three distinct types of kidnapping: kidnapping by a relative of the victim or "family kidnapping" (49 percent), kidnapping by an acquaintance of the victim or "acquaintance kidnapping" (27 percent), and kidnapping by a stranger to the victim or "stranger kidnapping" (24 percent).
  • Family kidnapping is committed primarily by parents, involves a larger percentage of female perpetrators (43 percent) than other types of kidnapping offenses, occurs more frequently to children under 6, equally victimizes juveniles of both sexes, and most often originates in the home.
  • Acquaintance kidnapping involves a comparatively high percentage of juvenile perpetrators, has the largest percentage of female and teenage victims, is more often associated with other crimes (especially sexual and physical assault), occurs at homes and residences, and has the highest percentage of injured victims.
  • Stranger kidnapping victimizes more females than males, occurs primarily at outdoor locations, victimizes both teenagers and school-age children, is associated with sexual assaults in the case of girl victims and robberies in the case of boy victims (although not exclusively so), and is the type of kidnapping most likely to involve the use of a firearm.
  • Only about one child out of each 10,000 missing children reported to the local police is not found alive. However, about 20 percent of the children reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in nonfamily abductions are not found alive.
  • In 80 percent of abductions by strangers, the first contact between the child and the abductor occurs within a quarter mile of the child's home.
  • Most potential abductors grab their victims on the street or try to lure them into their vehicles.
  • About 74 percent of the victims of nonfamily child abduction are girls.
  • Acting quickly is critical. Seventy-four percent of abducted children who are ultimately murdered are dead within three hours of the abduction.

     Remember, your kids are never too young to learn about stranger safety. Giving them tools now may keep them safe in the future. Just because stranger abductions are the exception rather than the rule, doesn't mean that they are uncommon. For more information, or if you need help getting started, check out these tips on Stranger Safety.

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