On Aug. 3, California residents received news via text message about an abducted girl in a blue Nissan Versa. The public initially knew very little about Hannah Anderson and the details of her disappearance: she’s a 16-year-old blonde from San Diego, and was last seen at cheer practice and was suspected of being taken by James DiMaggio, her father’s best friend. In spite of the lack of information, the widely broadcasted search for Anderson and her abductor captured the public’s attention. And though the nation breathed a collective sigh of relief when Anderson was found in the Idaho wilderness, many are still wondering how such a calamity could have even happened.
Though some time has passed and the Anderson story has faded away in light of other, more pressing news, there are many things that the public can learn from this tragedy. Most importantly, society should recognize that similar problems can be provided by taking cautionary steps. James DiMaggio was Anderson’s father’s best friend and like an uncle to Hannah and her brother Ethan, according to The Huffington Post. The thought of DiMaggio ever doing anything to harm the Anderson family was ridiculous to anyone who knew them, but there were several warning signs that were brushed off.
In an interview with CNN, Marissa Chavez, one of Anderson’s good friends, said that when she, Anderson and DiMaggio were in a car together, DiMaggio told Hannah that he would date her if she were his age. This type of comment is extremely inappropriate, especially coming from an uncle figure. Hannah and her friend brushed this comment off, agreeing later that it was slightly “weird.”
According to Child Find of America Inc., relatives other than the non-custodial parent abduct 21 percent of kidnapped children. Though DiMaggio was not related to Anderson by blood, he was close enough to the family that Anderson and her brother called him “Uncle Jim.” This statistic is proof that no matter what the relation is between a child and an adult, anything could happen.
Anderson and DiMaggio once took a trip to Hollywood together but returned home after only two days into their week long journey. According to CNN, DiMaggio was upset that Anderson “wasn’t paying enough attention to him.” Despite the close relationship DiMaggio had with the Anderson family, he was not blood related. A trip like this crosses a major boundary between an adult man and a teenage girl.
The warning signs should have been taken seriously. The public should be observant, be aware of boundaries and tell someone when these boundaries are crossed. It’s not for certain that this tragedy could have been prevented, but the family would have definitely been more wary of DiMaggio’s intentions had they been more aware of the subtle warning signs.
Izzy Albert is a sophomore majoring in business administration.
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