Wanted, Dead or Alive. This was the title of a series of homemade “wanted” posters that were hung all over the Grossmont College campus in San Diego. They were hung by a disgruntled father whose 19 year old daughter was dating a 33 year old man who was registered as a sex offender. The posters included the photo and name of the boyfriend, his student status at Grossmont College, and a reward of $3,000 to anyone who could deliver his body….dead or alive. The father has since been arrested for these posters after his daughter and her boyfriend alerted police.
My daughter and I heard about this story on the radio this morning, and our mouths were opened in disbelief. But I got to thinking about what this guy was going through, the helplessness he must have felt, and how I would feel if my own daughter were shacking up with some guy who was dangerous…and I understood.
Let’s go over a couple points. First of all, the woman is a 19 year old woman – legally an adult who can make her own choices. Second, a father is always a father – a role that generally means his child’s safety and best interest is his biggest priority, no matter what her age is. Third, this 19 year old woman is dating a registered sex offender. It is not known what he has to register for, but it’s safe to say that it isn’t for something positive.
And then there’s the dynamic between a teenage girl (she may be a legal adult, but let’s face it – 19 is still a teenager) and her father – a relationship that can prove to be a tricky one.
As someone who was once a teenage girl AND the daughter of a protective father, I can relate with what the 19 year old girl is going through, and why she turned her father in. Many of the arguments I got into with my father were over boys. And many of these arguments had us on non-speaking terms for days – after episodes of screaming matches, of course. As a teen, my dad was all wrong. And no matter what he said, I was going to do whatever I wanted to. I tell you, if my dad had heard of something like what this San Diego father did he would have been the very next person at Kinkos creating “Wanted” posters for the latest bad boy I had chosen to hang with – offering a reward for his head in a sling. And as a teenage girl, I would have done exactly what this girl had done – stood by my man and turned my father in for threatening murder on him.
But as an adult who has learned a thing or two from my past, as well as the mother of a daughter who is getting closer to those dating years every single day, I can tell you now that the majority of the time my dad had a valid reason to be concerned. He wasn’t fighting me to make my life miserable. He didn’t have a problem with some of the guys I dated just to be a jerk. It was all because he loved me. And had I let go of my stubbornness and teenage pride and just listened to him (something near impossible for a teenage girl to do), I might have saved myself a lot of heartache and hardship.
This man in San Diego is a dad who is concerned over his daughter, the little girl all grown up that he has dedicated his life towards protecting. And he must feel powerless as he watches his “little girl” take off with the very type of person he’s been protecting her against. I can safely assume that this has been a topic of dissention between the two of them, and the father was at his wits end. And I don’t doubt that when he wrote on the “Wanted” posters that he’d accept the boyfriend’s body “dead or alive”, he meant it just like he wrote it – hence the arrest for threatening another man’s life.
But were my own daughter to choose a sex offender, woman abuser, or any other despicable role that would put her in danger… Let’s just say that I think this man putting up posters is not the biggest crime he could have committed in efforts to protect his daughter.