Events like those in Cleveland this week that have seen 3 women rescued after a decade in captivity has stranger danger on the lips of parents again.
How did these women (teens at the time) go missing? Will my child be abducted too?
The answer to the last one is easy, not likely.
According to figures from 2011, of the 46,718 reported missing in Canada in 2011, 25 were listed as “abducted by stranger.”
The number shrinks even further since the police classify “stranger” as anyone who is not the child’s parent. Babysitters, family friends, and relatives are considered strangers, just as actual people unknown to the family or victim.
In other words, if anyone is going to kidnap, abduct, or take your child away you or your spouse are more than 99.9% likely to be the ones to do it.
So why do we continue to think our kids will be kidnapped? For the same reason we think we can win the Lottery. The odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are 1 in 175 million, yet how many times have you virtually spent those millions in your mind?
A child getting abducted is even more likely than you winning the lottery, so it’s understandable the fear and worst-case-scenarios would play out in your mind. “Will my child be abducted?” No, it has to stop.
Looking back at the numbers from 2011, nearly 2/3 of the missing children sitautions were over within 24 hours and 86% ended in a week. More often than not, the situation turned out to be a child running away.
It’s true, 1 child being taken by a stranger is 1 too many but just as in the casino, it’s time we played the odds and loosened the leash.
We need to keep our kids aware, just as you and I were in our youth. We need them to understand safe words, and how to ask for help when they need it. We need to empower them with the skills to live their own lives, and then trust them to do it.
Let your kids walk to school. Let your kids play with friends. Let them be kids. The odds are overwhelmingly in your favor that you’ll win this bet and we’ll all be better off for it.
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