Protecting Your Child from Abduction
If your anxiety is growing over your child's safety these days, you are not alone. Parents everywhere experienced a collective ripple of fear over the recent high profile kidnappings and murders of Danielle van Dam and Samantha Runnion, among others. And the safe return of Elizabeth Smart did little to alleviate those fears.
In fact, abductions by strangers are very rare indeed, notes parenting expert Jan Faull, M.Ed., a parent educator and an expert columnist for LHJ.com and BHG.com. And abductions of pre-elementary-age children are, thankfully, largely unheard of.
According to a 1990 U.S. Justice Department report on the topic of abducted and missing children, the great majority of missing-child incidents concern preteen and teenage kids. Many of these turn out to be runaways. The next-largest group of kids fall under the category "lost, injured, or otherwise missing children." It is only a small minority of kids that turn out to be victims of abduction, and of those, most are "family abductions." Abductions by a stranger, or "nonfamily abductions," as in the case of Samantha Runnion, are not at all typical, according to the FBI National Crime Information Center's National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). But they are the cases where the child is most in danger of injury or death.
So, what can you do to protect your child? The NCMEC has built their campaign around three easy-to-remember words: No, Go, Tell. According to the campaign, when approached by a stranger who is asking for their help, children should remember:
- No.Yell "No," as loudly as possible. This ensures that those around them know, or hear, that something is wrong.
- Go. Run away from the stranger toward home, the nearest adult or neighbor the child trusts, or to a safe house (if the neighborhood has one).
- Tell. Tell the adult they run to -- a parent, neighbor, or babysitter -- what happened.
Here are additional age-appropriate tips for keeping your child safe: