07/20/05 — Precious: If her story saves just one life she will not have died in vain

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Precious: If her story saves just one life she will not have died in vain

Even though the trial is over and the verdict and sentence are in, the case against convicted child killer Eric Lane is far from completion.

Since Lane has been sentenced to death, there will be appeals and arguments, not to mention a continued interest in the case because of the impending discussion about a moratorium on the death penalty in the state of North Carolina.

So, again, the criminal will receive the attention.

But before that happens, there is someone we should all take a moment to think about before we set aside the case, the drama and the aftermath.

Precious Whitfield.

Any murder is tragic, but what is especially poignant is one that involves an early end for a child.

And that is exactly the kind of loss that occurred in the Whitfield family.

Precious was a pretty child with an engaging smile and the innocent face of a little girl who had barely finished being a baby. She was friendly and outgoing, her family said, the kind of child who did not know a stranger.

So, it makes sense that a man would have been able to convince this happy youngster that since he pushed her on the swing, there was nothing wrong with going inside to see his fish and eels.

And in that moment of trust, little Precious lost her life.

Forget the horror of how she died. Forget the last tortured moments of her life. At least forget them as long as the sentence remains in place and is carried out against her attacker.

Remember instead the thousands of little girls like Precious who could become victims of child predators of all sorts over the next year — if nothing is done.

If you know someone who is dangerous or a threat, or if you suspect someone might not be exactly right when it comes to children, report that person to the authorities. If you are wrong, there might be a little embarrassment. If you are right, you could save a life.

And if you have a little girl or boy, or a not-so-little girl or boy, take the time to remind them that there are plenty of reasons to be cautious when you are around anyone who is not a close friend or family member. Caution them not to take chances and remind them of some of the warning signs that signal danger.

And then, give him or her a hug.

Nothing is going to bring Precious back. She is lost forever. But if her story saves even one life, then she will have not died in vain.

Published in Editorials on July 20, 2005 10:25 AM