Arrest in Etan Patz Kidnapping Case Gives Parents Little Comfort

Etan Patz missing posterI really want to look at the arrest in the decades old Etan Patz case as good news. I'm sure the parents of the little boy who went missing 33 years ago, only to become the first ever "face on the milk carton" are breathing easier today. But what about the rest of us? Does the confession from Pedro Hernandez really make life easier on the rest of us parents?

It's a selfish way to look at this whole thing, I know. Etan Patz' parents have been living with the horror of having said goodbye to their little boy one May day in 1979 and then never seeing him again. The pain is theirs and theirs alone. Except, not really.


The cases of missing kids are what keep other parents up at night. We watch the news, our hearts beating ever faster. Hoping. Waiting.

We want good news for our own sakes, for our own kids. Because we put ourselves in those parents shoes. We are Etan Patz' parents. We are Elizabeth Smart's parents. We are Jaycee Dugard's parents. Because we know that could have been our kid just as easily as it was theirs.

And when there is an arrest, a "solution," in a missing child case, we devour the news, hoping for a new clue that we can glean on how to prevent these future horrors. We use cases like Etan's as learning experiences to make our own kids safer. Only this time, we're striking out.

Pedro Hernandez has given a detailed confession that cops say is credible. They really seem to believe he is the dude who kidnapped and killed the child 33 years ago in Manhattan. But he won't give them a motive. And there's nothing in his past to otherwise explain what he says happened. Hernandez doesn't have a history of pedophilia. And he's a married dad nowadays (although he was a single, teenage convenience store worker at the time of Etan's death).

So what can we learn from this? Not much. At least not much that won't drive us completely insane. Unless Hernandez reveals more to the police, right now this confession is just another sign that random horrible things happen to kids every day. That's about as far from "comforting" as it gets.

What do you take away from the Etan Patz case to use in your own parenting? Anything?


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