Police are still searching for four missing Iowa teens known as the Xbox Romance Runaways: 16-year-old Corey Sunderman and 13-year-old Austin Boggs allegedly stole $400 and a Jeep Cherokee belonging to Corey's dad to pick up 15-year-olds Skie Floyd and Jazlyn Visek of Shellsburg, girls they apparently met through Xbox's online gaming system. The girls disappeared a few hours after the boys on Saturday, and none of their terrified parents have heard from them since (police don't think any of the kids are officially "in danger," but they're still kids, which means they're always technically "in danger").
Back when my own children were younger, I might have been tempted to blame the teens' disappearance on those now-terrified parents, at least partially. But now that I have a daughter in middle school, I wouldn't dare to point a finger!
Corey's mom, Crystal Sunderman, thought she had her bases covered: "I don't let him have a Facebook account because I don't want him meeting people online. I didn't realize they could do so much on Xbox," she said. Whoops.
She thought she had her bases covered the night before Corey and Austin ran away, too: When the boys snuck out to go skateboarding past the town's curfew and were promptly returned to the Sunderland home via police escort, Crystal did the only thing she could think of to keep them at home:
"This is going to sound really stupid, but I took all the shoes downstairs and put them in a bag and took them up to my room, thinking if I had the boys' shoes, they couldn't go out and go skateboarding again," she said. Whoops.
Okay, it does sound really stupid, because of course the boys just found some other shoes to wear, then proceeded to take off with the stolen money in the stolen car. Still, Crystal Sunderland was doing the best she could, in that moment, to keep her son safe.
Her best just wasn't good enough.
And someday, my best might not be good enough either. And that's scary as hell. So all we can do is pray these kids make it back home, safe, ASAP, and that we don't ever find ourselves in the same position as their parents are at this moment.
Do you ever worry about your kid doing something really stupid like running away to meet somebody they met online?
Image via Benton County Sheriff's Office