Child Safety Tips:
Kidnapping Escape

The ultimate of child safety tips is to teach your child how to escape from a kidnapper.

Two men kidnapped 7-year-old Erica Pratt from a Philadelphia street in 2002. They locked her in the basement of an abandoned house and made ransom demands of her family. Erica gnawed through the duct tape binding her, kicked through a door panel, broke an outside window to call for help, and was freed with the help of kids nearby.

Rebecca Savarese was walking to school in Pittsfield MA on a wintry morning in 1993. A man exited his pickup truck parked at the curb of the busy intersection, then grabbed and pulled the 10-year-old toward his truck. She yelled and spun away, leaving him holding her backpack as she ran to safety. He dropped it on the sidewalk and casually drove away. Only one of many passersby noticed the kidnapping attempt and wrote down the truck’s license plate number, leading to Louis Lent’s arrest at his home (with cages concealed in the walls) – a suspected murderer of dozens of children.

Rebecca was his only target who’d been taught child safety tips – to defy an adult and fight to escape immediately. Odds of survival are far better on the spot rather than at a secluded secondary crime scene where a kidnapper can carry out his evil plans. As early as possible, through role-playing (and playing Hide & Seek), teach your children – how to escape from a kidnapper.

STRANGER DANGER ESCAPE LESSONS

• If a stranger in a car wants you to come closer, run as fast as you can in the opposite direction while screaming "Help! Police!"
• Thrash, fight, bite, and scream, "Help! Police!" repeatedly, shed a jacket or backpack that is grabbed, drop any excess baggage slowing you down and escape to a populated area. YELL! RUN! TELL! The kidnapper fears a public spectacle and may simply flee alone. Also, witnesses may intervene, or at least identify the kidnapper and/or vehicle.
• If there’s a gun, ignore it and run! A gun is used to scare – rarely if ever to shoot a child. (Besides, if he's willing to quickly kill a child on the spot, he'll slowly do worse harm at leisure before killing the child later at a secluded, secondary crime scene anyway.)
• Activate their personal security alarm (noisemaker).
• Run in circles around an object such as a parked car.
• Get under a car (belly up) and hold onto the underside so he can’t drag them out. If he crawls under there after them, get out on the other side.
• Pull a fire alarm.

ESCAPING FROM GRABS

WINDMILLING

The haunting videotape from Evie's Car Wash camera in Sarasota FL shows 11-year-old Carlie Brucia being led to her death by Joseph P. Smith in 2004 – the first time the world actually saw a monster kidnapping a child – pulling her by the wrist out of sight.

It might never have happened had she not been outdoors unsupervised, or had she known the child safety tips to get away from an adult by “windmilling” their arm when it's grabbed – that is, suddenly swinging the whole, straight arm from the shoulder in a large circle to break his grip. Then the child should run screaming for help.

If snatched while on a bike - hang onto the bike with hands and legs intertwined around the bike to prevent being shoved into a car. Scream all the while.

IF THE CHILD IS ALREADY IN THE KIDNAPPER'S CAR

CAUTION: These escape maneuvers, if not carefully taught, may injure the child or others. The parents must assume all responsibility and decide if the benefit outweighs the risk. Practice these maneuvers in a parked vehicle with the motor turned off.

The main idea is to stop the kidnapper – the sooner the better – from driving the child to a secluded location. The child must disrupt the kidnapper’s ability to drive and/or cause the car to crash while it’s moving at a slow speed. This will attract the attention of other people and give the child a chance to flee. Do one or more of the following:

Immediately, before he even begins to drive her away, she can thrust herself between the driver and steering wheel – hanging onto the steering wheel with all her might while blaring the horn. Do this as soon as possible – or whenever she gets the chance.
• Grab the ignition key to turn off the engine – causing the car to suddenly slow and the steering to freeze.
• Grab the steering wheel while he’s in mid-turn.
• Brace her back against the door and attack the kidnapper with the powerful Defensive Ground Kicks taught in Fighting Strategies. He won’t be able to drive while absorbing a rapid-fire barrage of such kicks.
• Jump out the door whenever the car is not moving.
• Scream “Help! Police!” whenever a window or door is opened.
• If she’s a back seat passenger, she may still be able to attack the driver by attacking his eyes or throat from behind at a critical time. At a very slow speed, cause the car to crash!

Also teach children the Clinch Attacks on Fighting Strategies.

GIRL OUTSMARTS KIDNAPPER

A burglar, Enrique Sosa Alvarez, kidnapped 9-year-old Jennette Tamayo from her San Jose CA home in 2003 and drove away with her in the back seat of his car. She felt panic when he spoke on his cellphone about killing her and thought, “Oh, my God! I have to find a way out.” She stayed strong as she talked to him, saying that she was sick – so that he saw her as a person.

Spooked by intense media coverage and an Amber Alert, he dropped her off unharmed. She helped police find him by having memorized his cellphone number.

PERSONAL SAFETY DEVICES & RESOURCES

GPS Child Locator: a child tracking device. A variety of models are available. I highly recommend these if used with the utmost parental discretion.
Personal Security Alarm: (noisemaker or screamer). Most attackers won’t chase a noisy target.
• The RadKids.org superbly covers child self-defense (from bullies, molesters, kidnappers) as well as all-around child safety tips (for fires, traffic, getting lost, etc.) for ages 5-12. The instruction level increases for each age group. And it’s a terrific bargain: pay the low fee once (which barely covers overhead costs) and your child can return again and again for free at any RadKids location nationwide.
• The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) Missing Kids. Their 24-hour hotline is 800-THE-LOST (800-843-5678).


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