Missing Paso Robles teen found

March 23, 2012

Siera Tharp

A 13-year-old girl who ran away last weekend has been found safe and returned home to her father in Paso Robles.

Paso Robles police working in conjunction with Kern County Sheriff’s deputies discovered Siera Tharp in Ridgecrest at the home of a family friend. On March 17, the teen left her father Christopher Tharp a letter saying she was running away because of family disagreements.

Police suspected the teen had headed to her mother’s home in Inyokern, a town near Ridgecrest. Her father has full legal custody.

Siera was found Thursday at about 630 p.m.

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Kudos for posting this!

This kind of story, simple as it is, is important in that it is a counter to all the high-drama media coverage that the “missing children” stories get. It is NOT that such stories don’t deserve attention and coverage. It is that the dominance of the one type over the other creates a climate of paranoia and fear far beyond what is justified by actual occurrence.

While bad things happening to children (abduction, sexual assaults and school shootings) are serious business, obsessive news coverage of them gives a distorted perspective on their frequency. This in turn leads to fearful over-reactions by the public and law makers which too often results in paranoid parenting and poorly thought-out policies. The world has changed significantly in the past 20 years but people are much the same. There were just as many bad things happening 30/60/90 years ago as today. They just didn’t have 24-7 nation-wide media coverage.

It is one thing to teach kids to be aware of their surroundings and to think through reactions in advance. It is another thing to put them in a metaphorical bubble and try to protect them from the overwhelming onslaught of evil many people imagine.