A new study has shown that girls ages 10 to 14, walking alone to or from school, are the most likely targets of child abductors. However, they are also the group most able to “escape harm through their own fast thinking or fierce resistance,” according to The Washington Post.
To be sure, kidnapping ranks high on the list of parental worries, but the crime is “infrequent,” the Post says. Ernie Allen, president of the missing children’s center, says, “The goal here is not to frighten, but to encourage parents to sit down with their kids, talk to them about their safety, and practice these things.” These things being the ability to recognize a bad situation and knowing how to respond. So what should you teach your kids about “stranger danger?”
Successful responses to stranger abduction include kicking and screaming, running or otherwise fleeing the scene. It’s important to tell your children not to wait for another adult to intervene should they be approached by a stranger trying to lure them into a car. Allen says, “The child should do whatever is necessary to stay out of the car, because once the child is in that car, it dramatically reduces the chances of escape.” Teaching your kids not to talk to any stranger is a bad idea, because in fact most people are helpful. It’s important to tell your children to trust their gut when examining people they don’t know for strange behavior. If a situation feels bad, it probably is.
In fact, “Federal research shows successful abductions by strangers are relatively rare.” But about 36,700 abduction cases per year “involve a caretaker, neighbor or someone a child knows at least casually.” And there are an estimated 204,000 incidents of family abduction annually, most of them presumably surrounding child custody disputes. If you’re concerned that an ex-partner is likely to kidnap your child, read these tips on the Early Identification of Risk Factors for Parental Abduction, provided by the Department of Justice.
Photo: nannetteturner via Flickr