The Problem of Child Abduction
Child abductions that result in murder are rare, (especially when compared to other safety risks) but they sure make the headlines when they happen. However, even one of these cases is one too many. Each year, there are about 100 children who go missing and are later found murdered. Some are taken by strangers, other are taken by relatives or acquaintances. Some, no doubt. even involve cases where parents have murdered their own children and then covered it up with a story of abduction.
Nearly 3/4 of all children abducted and murdered are dead within six hours of the abduction. It leaves authorities in a tough position to act on a child abduction. It also leaves it almost completely in the hands of the child to either avoid the abduction to begin with, or to escape and elude death at the hands of his or her attacker.
Most abductions like this are a crime of opportunity. Very few are planned out. More importantly, with the proper safety training, kids actually have a pretty good track record of thwarting abduction attempts, and hundreds of kids do this each year. So with a little bit of abduction prevention education, you can help them survive almost any abduction scenario.
Don’t Take Chances: Thing Parents Do That Can Put Their Child At Risk For Abduction
Many times, children are abducted because parents take chances with their kids that they probably shouldn’t. Try to avoid things like these:
- Don’t send children on short errands alone, not even to the neighborhood store.
- Avoid having your children play outside in the yard after dark, unless there is a parent supervising. For that matter, have a parent around to supervise any time children are playing in the front yard.
- Get a neighborhood watch going with other parents, so that children are always supervised at the bus stop or walking to and from school. If it is possible, take turns walking the kids from the bus stop to reduce the threat of not only an abductor, but of a possible pedestrian accident.
- Remember that most murder abductions are abductions of opportunity. Do your best to eliminate that opportunity to begin with.
- Avoid personalization on items that are visible from the outside. For instance, don’t write your child’s name on the outside of her lunchbox or provide any way for a stranger to learn her name. This may confuse a lone child if someone calls them by name.
Child Code Words: Do They Prevent Kidnapping?
Code words are used by some parents as a type of password to identify the person as someone that is authorized to take / pick up a child. We do not endorse the use of code words for the following reasons: Although they have been shown to work in one or two instances, there are many other effective means to deal with a potential abductor that are far safer.
Children sometimes forget their code word. So they will ask for it, but then go with whatever answer the person gives because they forget their code word. It’s also possible for an abductor to successfully guess the code word. When children come up with code words to use, it is often a favorite food, a favorite animal, or other childhood items. Thus the code word system is not as foolproof as one might suspect.
Most importantly, there is no reason for code words. Unless you make a habit of constantly having other people come to pick up your child without telling them about it first (which you should not be doing), code words are unnecessary. Children should not be giving a potential abductor any extra time by standing there asking for a code word. If someone they don’t know approaches them and asks them to come with them, the question should never be academic and up for debate. Just run.
Rules About Friends
Unfortunately, about half of the children abducted and murdered in the United States are taken by someone they have an acquaintance with, and sometimes know well. Nearly all of the children who are abducted and not killed are taken by a close family member or friend of the family.
You should try not to get in the habit of having other people pick up your child, especially without telling your child first. Parents who do this greatly increase the chances of someone they know snatching their child, for whatever reason they have in mind.
Teach children that if anyone they know ever tries to pick them up without you telling them about it first, they should ask another adult. This won’t necessarily prevent an abduction, but it will almost always deter anyone who is thinking of murder. Also, doing this allows school officials and anyone else a chance to verify and check the validity of the person trying to pick your child up.
The Golden Rule for Preventing Child Abductions
Teach children this valuable rule: It doesn’t matter who it is or what the situation, if you are ever unsure about something or someone, ask for another adult’s help. Whether it be protection from sexual abuse or abductions, or even other safety issues for that matter, this is an invaluable rule for children to learn and get into the habit of doing.
If a friend picks you up and you are not sure, ask another adult first. If someone wants to do something with you that makes you feel funny, ask another adult first. If a friend wants you to do something with them and you are not sure, ask an adult first. Always ask whenever you aren’t sure.
Protect Your Child From Abduction With a Personal GPS Safety Device
Perhaps the most sure fire way to protect your child from abduction is to equip them with a personalized GPS safety device. These small units have a panic button for emergencies and can be easily added to accessories that your child wears. For about 30 cents a day you can secure the peace of mind of always knowing exactly where your child is at any given moment – which has many everyday benefits beyond safety prevention.