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My turn: A parent's playground safety concerns

Posted: Tuesday, July 31, 2007

It's come to my attention that this new playground at Twin Lakes is not as safe as it seems. As a former employee of the Department of Corrections and someone who is currently enrolled for a criminal justice degree, I can rightfully say most of the members of our Juneau community are unaware of what really goes on in this town and the extent of the crimes being committed against our children.

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Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love the new playground and my kids do as well. I remember going there the day this project opened with the intention of going in with my children to keep a close eye on them. That day I stumbled and turned away for no more than three seconds, and when I turned around and I couldn't find my kids anywhere. After that, I made the decision to sit outside the playground so I can make sure that someone doesn't take off with my boys and my daughter.

A few days ago our family decided to go back to the playground. I had all of our three kids in my sights. My youngest headed off toward one of the slides. My wife was busy being tackled by our oldest and by our daughter. I had just turned around to keep an eye on my youngest at the slide when a lady that I work with came up to me and said, "You know your kid is almost halfway across the parking lot." I freaked out; I immediately ran and got him. If it wasn't for her, my son could have gotten seriously hurt.

Anyone who knows me knows that I put my kids first and their safety and well being is important to me, and that I would risk my life for any child. I'm a huge stickler, and I closely monitor the entry and exit points when we go to the playground. I realize now that we became so concerned about getting this new playground up we forgot to look at how safe it really is. This play ground is a predator's dream. I'm sure I'm not the only parent who realizes this. I've seen many parents, including myself, try to monitor their children and make sure they know where they are at all times. However, we parents soon realize that's not always possible. Our children are like little Houdinis; no matter what we do they'll figure out something in order to get away.

I think we should form a petition and bring it to the attention of the people who are responsible for this playground and ask them to implement more safety options. Even if it means finding volunteer security guards, if not for the whole week, at least for the busy weekends. This is really important, and I'm sure that the Juneau Police Department and the Department of Corrections staff will agree with me on this one.

If we truly want to make child safety our number-one priority it's time to step up to the plate and truly practice what we preach. I would not hesitate to risk my life or spend extra money for my three kids and for other kids if it means keeping them safe. Lets push for extra safety measures for the Twin Lakes playground.

Children are the definition of innocence; so please, as a community, let's rally together for them.

• Lea Miller, of Juneau, is an administrative clerk for the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Southeast region.



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