JonBenet Ramsey, the little pageant queen who was brutally murdered in 1996, has drawn much attention to the phenomenon of child pageants. Her father, John, has opened up about his feelings about beauty pageants, saying that he regrets ever introducing JonBenet to that world.
On what would have been JonBenet's 21st birthday, her father is speaking out about the world of children's beauty pageants and TLC's series "Toddlers and Tiaras."
"It's very bizarre," he told ABC News. "And it certainly- Patsy and JonBenet didn't approach it that way. We, they, just did it for fun."
Even fun, though, has its limits, and Ramsey now says that he sees the danger of the attention JonBenet received from the pageants. "I don't know, but I think advice to a parent is just recognize that regardless of where you live, there could be evil around you. Don't be naïve about it. Keep your kids protected."
Before her death, JonBenet appeared in a local parade. He described receiving a warning from his mother-in-law.
"Pasty had her sitting atop a friend's convertible in the Christmas parade waving at the people lining the streets," said Ramsey. "Patsy's mother later told me that a strange man approached the car during the parade and it made her uncomfortable."
"I think about these things now, and it makes me cringe. We were so naïve. I now believe with all my heart that it's not a good idea to put your child on public display," he explained. There was an immediate backlash against the Ramseys for allowing JonBenet to compete in pageants and dressing her in suggestive clothing for the competitions.
Child pageants were seen as potential breeding grounds for pedophiles who wanted to watch the competitions. Slowly but surely, though, the pageants have again become popular. TLC is currently airing the fourth season of "Toddlers and Tiaras," which feature pageant moms and their competing daughters.
"On any given weekend, on stages across the country, little girls and boys parade around wearing makeup, false eyelashes, spray tans and fake hair to be judged on their beauty, personality and costumes," says TLC's website. "'Toddlers and Tiaras' follows families on their quest for sparkly crowns, big titles, and lots of cash."
John Ramsey also spoke about the media coverage that ensued in the days following JonBenet's disappearance.
"I had 24-hour-a-day cameras outside of our house for, gosh, a year probably," said the father.
12 years after JonBenet's murder, both he and Patsy, the mother, were fully cleared of any involvement. Public speculation continued, however.
Patsy died in 2006 of ovarian cancer, and John has worked to rebuild his reputation. He has recently released "The Other Side of Suffering," which chronicles his path from grief to hope. The publisher compares John to the biblical figure of Job.
"Like the biblical Job, John Ramsey had it all- wealth, social position, a loving family. And like Job, Ramsey was destined for great affliction, as many of the most precious things in his life were cruelly taken from him," reads Amazon's description of the book.
Ramsey gives his account of transition from grief and anger to forgiveness in the book.
"You can't stay [in anger]," he told ABC. "It's damaging to you as a person."
The book will be released tomorrow, one day after JonBenet's birthday.