The shocking killing of 13-year-old Genelle Renee Conway-Allen has devastated the young girl’s family and friends and rocked the community. A haunting surveillance image of the girl released earlier this week shows a normal teen in skinny jeans, sweatshirt and pink backpack. She looks like countless other young girls out, a fact not lost on Fairfield-Suisun parents.
While this tragedy was unfolding, a Fairfield teen, 15-year-old Kelsey Bostick, was reported missing by her mother. Fortunately, Kelsey was found safe Saturday.
Having teens missing and one found murdered has jangled the nerves and broken the hearts of area residents who are rightly concerned that a killer is on the loose. While I have no information on Genelle’s killer(s) or what happened to her on that fateful day, we need to seize this moment to talk with our kids.
Many parents have already changed their schedules so they can pick up their children from school. They’ve encouraged their kids to walk in groups or pairs.
Cellphones are a godsend for keeping tabs on your children’s whereabouts. If your child is one of the 25 percent of kids age 12 to 17 who don’t have a cellphone, you might want to consider it if you can afford it. Sure, cellphones come with their own set of problems, but the ability to be in touch with one’s kids no matter where they are is a good tradeoff.
Since time immemorial, teens have told their parents they’re at one location only to be at another. As horrific as the murder of a child is, thankfully, it’s a rare event. But parents still have to worry about truancy, underage drinking, drug use, sexual situations, vandalism, graffiti, fights and other things kids can get into when we don’t know where they are or who they’re with.
When I was around Genelle’s age, we lived on Davis Drive off East Tabor Avenue and across the railroad tracks. While my dad was working at the naval base in Alameda and my mother worked at then-Intercommunity Hospital, I would ride my bike to see friends who lived near the Suisun marina. My parents would’ve freaked out if they knew I was riding my bike on Highway 12.
That’s why parents should consider using GPS tracking apps (available for Android and iOS) on those cellphones they give to their kids. The ability to look at a map that shows you where your child is at a given moment offers peace of mind that parents from my generation never had.
There’s no way I would’ve been on my bike near the Suisun marina if I knew my mother could pull up a map that disclosed my location.
Parents and guardians will do whatever they can to make sure their children are safe. Three years ago when an online predator contacted my 13-year-old granddaughter Lauryn, her mother and I worked to have him arrested. Lauryn knows the dangers of what’s out there and we always keep the lines of communication open. Use this awful tragedy to talk with your kids.
An innocent 13-year-old girl’s life has been stolen and we pray that her loved ones are comforted and her killer is brought to justice. And we’re going to do whatever we can to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Peace.
Kelvin Wade is writer/author. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.