Child safety tips to safeguard against molesters andKIDNAPPING
A schoolgirl kidnapped in Vienna Austria spent 8 years caged underground. Even in such a low-crime country, predators stalk its children. Although most missing children turn out to be runaways who soon return home, or children abducted by a parent in a messy divorce, a few each year disappear like Natascha Kampusch did as a 10-year-old girl . She was walking to school when Wolfgang Priklopil jumped out of a minivan, grabbed her, and shoved her into the back. He kept her as his sex slave in a tiny caged pit dug into the floor of his garage. As an 18-year-old, she managed to escape when he was distracted. There are scores of similar cases worldwide.
From “The Kidnapping of Juveniles” – US Department of Justice (USDOJ) - July 2000 (an unprecedented analysis of child kidnapping):
• Family members commit 49 percent of kidnappings.
Stemming from a divorce and custody dispute, usually it’s fathers
kidnapping their own child, but mothers often do, too. 4 percent of
family kidnappings result in injury.
• Acquaintances commit 27 percent of kidnappings. Usually, these are boyfriends or ex-boyfriends of the child's mother kidnapping adolescent girls, but family friends and employees sometimes kidnap children in their care. 24 percent of acquaintance kidnappings result in injury.
• Strangers commit 24 percent of kidnappings. 16 percent of stranger kidnappings result in injury.
Child safety tips of the past always warned children to beware of strangers. But now we learn the child usually knows the kidnapper. Besides, to a child, a stranger quickly becomes an acquaintance – once the child learns his name, he’s no longer a stranger.
Simply, whether acquaintance or stranger – the child should be alert to his intent to get the child alone – or into his car. The bottom line to teach your child, “Do NOT go off with ANYONE!” See the escape techniques in Child Kidnapping Escape.
Other USDOJ studies show that between 750,000 and 1.3 million children are reported missing each year. Roughly 140,000 of those are runaways or temporarily lost, 500,000 are kidnapped in a parental custody dispute, but 58,000 are indeed kidnapped by acquaintances or strangers. Between 50 and 100 victims are murdered and another 50-100 are ransomed or taken permanently.
However, when a case sparks a media frenzy, police departments
nationwide are flooded with calls from panicky parents. So the typical
law-enforcement spokesperson inappropriately overreacts and misinforms the public by saying that child kidnappings are "rare." In reality, it's the 50-100 murders and the 50-100 ransoms or permanent disappearances that are relatively rare among the roughly one million U.S. children reported missing each year.
KNOW this: the 58,000 children kidnapped by acquaintances or strangers (mostly for short-term sexual molestation) are certainly not rare. Add to that the FBI estimates of another 150,000 failed kidnapping attempts. That means a total of more than 200,000 children are targeted each year! That gives parents 200,000 reasons to remain hyper-vigilant – not "paranoid," but always choosing safety over convenience.
• "Your mother's been in an accident and they sent me to pick you up." (A secret codeword will thwart that ploy.)
• "I'm lost. Just get in the car and show me and I'll bring you right back."
• "I'm lost. What? I can’t hear you. Come closer to my car.”
• "I've lost my puppy. Can you help me find it? Come see this picture of my puppy.”
• "I've just found some money. Come with me and I'll share it with you." (Or other bribes.)
• A man with his arm in a sling and a load of books asking for help.
• Some predators even have bogus police uniforms and gear. Don’t trust a “cop” without a real police car.
Kids must know to instantly run away in the opposite direction that the car is headed and immediately tell an adult what happened. Teach your children to trust only a uniformed police officer with a real police car.
Even after they’ve been warned of the above lures, studies show that kids still fall for them because the kidnapper looks and acts so nice and friendly. Of course, kids are naturally leery of scruffy, seedy, menacing men – in short, scary men. But what about the more common kidnapper – the gentle, charming, cuddly, “big teddy-bears?”
Bad men may look like fathers and uncles and neighbors because they are the fathers and uncles and neighbors of other kids. Teach your child to be leery of anyone trying to take the child anywhere.
Witnesses see the victim with the kidnapper 37 percent of the time – without realizing it until afterward. These scenarios are subtle.
About to enter a shopping mall, Monica passed a man leaving with a crying boy who clearly didn’t want to go. She stopped short, not sure of what to do. Was this man the boy's father?
Monica said to the boy, “Well, it looks like you don’t want to leave.” The man replied, “Dinner’s waiting at home.” The boy added, “But we didn’t go to the pet store.” The man said, “Mom’s coming here tomorrow. You can see the puppies then.” The boy seemed OK with that, so Monica was satisfied that the relationship between the two seemed legitimate.
When you see an adult leading a reluctant child, you might ask the child, “Is that your Daddy?” If you feel suspicious, at the very least, get the vehicle’s license plate number and call 911 immediately. Your concern may save a child's life.
An eight-year-old girl was murdered at a shopping mall in Perth Australia. Police say her brother and her uncle went to a Men's restroom while she went to a Women's alone.
A man in a restroom of a Chicago restaurant choked an eight-year-old girl until she passed out. The girl had been with her mother when she went by herself to use the restroom. Her mother heard a scream, ran in and found the man carrying her unconscious daughter into a stall. Others subdued Reese Hartstirn until police arrived. The girl was hospitalized.
• Never let a child under age 13 go alone to a public
lavatory. If the child is of the opposite sex, knock on the door, stick
your head in to check it out, and then guard the door. Or take a younger
child to your bathroom with you – just make an announcement as you
• Never let a child of the opposite sex under age 13 go alone into a public locker-room (such as when you’re going swimming together). Either ask the manager to provide a staff member of the same sex to oversee your child, or you should stand at the locker-room entrance and maintain a constant, loud conversation with your child while he/she gets dressed.
• Get your child a Personal Security Alarm: a.k.a. noisemaker or screamer. An attacker won’t likely chase a noisy target. Attach the “pin-pull” type to a belt. Engrave your name and phone number on the back of it.
• Never leave your child unattended for even a moment. Parks and shopping malls are especially high risks. If you get separated within a crowd of adults, crouch down and look for your child's feet – they’ll be easier to spot. If no luck, loudly yell "Help! My child is missing!" People will respond. Notify staff personnel immediately.
• Never let your child get more than 15 feet away from you in public areas. If ever separated from you, make sure your child knows to go to a cashier, uniformed guard, or to a woman with children – and to never leave the area. If anyone is trying to take the child away, the child must make a huge commotion – yell, scream, knock over displays, etc. (see Child Kidnapping Escape). Also consider using a GPS Child Locator. I highly recommend these if used with the utmost discretion.
• Never leave your child unattended in a video arcade, movie theater, playground, or toy store.
• Never leave your child unattended in a car – especially with the keys in the ignition. Small retailers see it every day. If ever you see such child endangerment, call the police immediately. Foolish parents need a harsh lesson.
• Don’t display your child’s nametags to enable a stranger to more easily approach them.
• Child molesters usually look for lone children. Never let your children be alone off their own property. (Some molesters are "bus trawlers" - they follow a school bus waiting for kids who get off alone. Overall, most molesters look for lone kids.)
• Older kids must always get your OK before going anywhere, getting into any car, or going into any home. They must phone you regularly and have a definite schedule.
• Immediately leave a friend’s house (or anywhere) if they find a gun. Stop, Don’t Touch, Run to Tell You. And never give your child a toy that looks like a real gun.
• Always have at least one friend along when going to a public place – especially a lavatory.
• Walk only on safe routes to school and elsewhere that you’ve scouted out with your child – and avoid walking through parking lots. Point out safe havens along the way. Children should remain in groups.
• Stay beyond “grabbing distance” from anyone in a car trying to talk to them. Run in the opposite direction of anyone following them.
• Go to any populated place for help in an emergency or if they’re lost – and be loud about it.
• Summon passing police officers, not by waving at them, but rather by drawing an outstretched hand toward one’s chest. In other words, use the “come here” gesture.
• Make an emergency collect (free) phone call, and to begin with "Operator, I'm in trouble. I need help."
• Beware of juice bars – notorious hangouts for child molesters hunting for children.
• Give up their valuables if ever they’re robbed – never to fight to keep them and escalate the violence.
• Never solicit funds for any project, especially never door-to-door.
• Always get your OK before accepting money, any gift, or a job.
• Always get your OK before anyone takes his or her picture.
• Tell you if anyone discusses sex or love with him or her.
• Beware of anyone who tries to persuade them to go against your wishes.
• Always tell you if anyone wants to keep a “special secret” from you.
• Personal Security Alarm: (noisemaker or screamer). An attacker won’t likely chase a noisy target.
• GPS Child Locator: a child tracking device. Various models are available. Highly recommended if used with the utmost parental discretion.
Book early with an airline that keeps lone children on board until other passengers have gotten off, so that the attendant can give them undivided attention. Choose a nonstop flight early in the day to avoid the possibility of cancellation or a missed connection that can mean an unexpected overnight stay.
Several days before, take your child on an airport tour to learn the procedures. Teach your child to trust only uniformed airline staff for help with restroom visits or any questions.
On flight day, arrive extra early, let the ticket agent know that your child will be flying alone, and then stay with your child until departure.
Prepare thorough destination arrangements, too. Make sure the person waiting to pick up your child must show photo ID to the airline before your child is released.
By Bus or Train
Traveling by bus or train is less secure than by air thus you must take more precautions before letting your child travel alone. Age 14 is the minimum recommended. Check with the carrier for rules concerning children. Follow the guidelines above for air travel. Also, have the child inform each bus driver. Make sure any youngster travelling alone by bus or train is extremely well prepared and self-sufficient.