In today's society, there is violence and crimes against children are increasing. Abductions are a part of crimes against children. (The following numbers are estimated and may be disputed)
- Over 4,000 children are abducted by strangers (non family members) each year in the United States
- There are approximately 120,000 attempted abductions per year
- There are 300 long term abductions per year in which the children are either murdered, never found, or are returned to their families months or years later
- Over 354,000 children are abducted by family members.
- Over 450,700 children run away
- Over 127,100 children are thrown away
- Over 438,200 children are lost, injured, or otherwise missing
► It can happen
In Maryland, an intruder entered a home through an unlocked back door, took a 2-year-old girl out of her crib, abused her in the backyard, and then ran off. After the attack, the girl walked back to her house, where her mother found her crying in the early morning.
Some people go to shopping malls to find what they need, other go to playgrounds for what they need, young children. Polly Claus was abducted from her home while her parents were there and was later murdered.
► Things to teach children
So what can you do? Should you constantly live in fear? Should you keep your child constantly at you side? No! Know your children's friends and the families of the friends. Talk to your children frankly about the abduction. Teach them about avoidance, awareness, and self-defense. Make them aware of how abductors and molesters operate, and the techniques they use to lure their victims. If your child knows how they operate, your child may better handle any situation that may arise.
Tell all children:
- Never say you are along when answering the phone; offer to take a message or say your parents will phone back.
- Never answer the door if a parent is not home.
- Do not invite anyone into the house without the permission of a parent or babysitter.
- Never go into anyone's house with letting parent or babysitter know where you are.
- Do not get into anyone's car without parent's permission.
- Do not take candy or other gifts from strangers or anyone else with asking a parent first.
- Never play in deserted buildings or isolated areas.
- Move away from a car that pulls up beside you if you do not know the driver.
- No one may touch any part of your bodies that a bathing suit would cover. If someone should touch you in those areas or make you touch them in those areas, immediately tell parents about it. This includes people you know, friends of the family, uncles, aunts, godfathers, or anyone else. Even though it may be embarrassing, it is not your fault and it needs to stop.
- Tell parents, school authorities, or a police officer about anyone who exposes his or her private parts.
- Tell parents if someone has asked you to keep a secret from you.
- If lost or separated from you in a store or mall, then go to the nearest cashier.
- Use the buddy system, never walk or ride bikes alone, at day or night.
- Always walk toward traffic, even when on sidewalks. That way an abductor cannot drive up from behind and pull you into his or her vehicle. Walk in the middle of the sidewalk, away from doorways and alleyways.
- Do not take unsafe shortcuts across parks, etc.
- Always tell a family member or other adult in charge where you will be at all times and when you will be home, this includes when at neighbor's house.
- Always, always ask your parents' permission to go to a friend's house, leave your yard, or go any other place. Your parents need to know where you are going so as to protect you.
- Do not go with strangers! Talking to strangers, if you are with someone you know and trust, is okay in most cases.
- Do not talk to strange people on the other side of schoolyard fence. Run and tell a teacher that a stranger is talking to you, especially if they are asking you any questions.
- Don not accept gifts from anyone not specifically OK'd by your parents.
- Never go with or accept a ride from anyone who does not know the secret word. Have a secret word known only to family members. Use strange words that may not be easily guessed. Teach the children not to ask a person for the word. If the person does not use the word immediately, the child should take evasive action. Do not put children's names on their lunch boxes where anyone may see it. Explain to your children that, even if a stranger knows your name, he or she could still be an abductor.
- It is alright to say NO! to an adult when the person wants you to do something you have been taught is wrong.
- If a strange vehicle or person tries to approach, DO NOT GO NEAR THE VEHICLE! Keep walking or run, if necessary! Bus stops are common areas for abductors to use. They tell children that the bus broke down and they are there to pick up the kids, or when it is raining or snowing, abductors offer children rides to get them out of the weather.
- Teach your children at a young age how and when to use 911. Disconnect the phone and pretend you are the dispatcher so they may practice making calls. Make sure your children know their full name and yours, the complete address to your house, and your phone number.
- To insure the quick apprehension of an offender, teach your children to be aware of things that may identify the perpetrator. You should also be aware of these things. Do not put yourself in any danger while getting this information.
- Vehicle Identification. If you see a child pulled into a vehicle, or if you see vehicles "driving back and forth" in your neighborhood, write it the following:
- Color or colors.
- Type (SUV, small car, pickup truck, etc.)
- License plate numbers and state of issuance.
- Window tint, dents, rust, or anything else that might be used to identify the vehicle.
- Driver or Stranger Identification. Look for the following:
- Race/Nationality (White, Black, Asian, Indian, Hispanic, etc.)
- Sex (Male/Female)
- Hair (color and length, mustache, beard, scars, balding, receding hairline, etc.)
- Clothes (color of shirt, jacket/coat, hat, glasses, etc.)
- Other passengers, or if he or she has animals with him or her.
- What to do if someone tries to get you:
- Remember the SKY (Scream - Kick - Yell). These three things will draw attention to you and may scare the person away or bring help.
- Look for a person you know or a "Safe Place," run to it, and ask for help.
- Get immediate attention of anyone nearby if you feel threatened.
- Yell "FIRE! FIRE!" and not "Help!"
- Yell "You are not my Dad or Mom, do not try to take me away."
- Scatter your books and belongings.
- Break a window, if necessary, do not be afraid to draw attention to yourself.
- Stay near people if at all possible.
- Do not run into an open field or wooded area.
- Remember the 4 R's (React, Release, Retaliate, Run)
- React. Do not wait, so something immediately.
- Release. Get away by using SKY.
- Retaliate. Hit, kick, or punch.
- Run. Get out of the area as fast as you can.
- Listen to your teachers when they tell you where to go and what to do around school grounds.
- Do not help adult strangers. Adults should not ask children for help. Adults ask adults for help. This technique is used to make the child feel important and to get close to the child before abducting them. No one should be asking a child for directions. If they do, tell the children you do not know where it is and walk in the opposite direction the car is facing.
- Do not help an adult look for a lost puppy or cat. This is a common technique for getting the child to go where the abductor wants them to.
- Do not let anyone take pictures of you no matter who they claim to be. Immediately tell your parents. If anyone trys or forces you to take pictures, tell someone immediately.
- To let you know where they are at all times or leave a written or recorded message at home.
- Never hitchhike or accept rides from friends unless they have your permission.
- If attacked for money, jewelry, or clothing, give it up rather than risk injury.
- Avoid shortcuts through empty parks, fields, or alleys.
- Run home or go to the nearest public place and yell for help if they are being followed.
- Feel that they can talk to you and call you to pick them up any time, any place.
As parents, there are some other things you may do to help prevent abduction:
- Avoid clothing and toys with your child's name visibly on it. A child is less likely to fear someone that knows their name.
- Never leave a child alone in a public place, stroller, or car. Not even for a minute.
- Always accompany young children to the bathroom in a public place and advise them never to play in or around the area.
- Keep an up-to-date color photograph of your child, a medical and dental history, and have your child fingerprinted.
► How do I know if my Child has been molested
As parents and protectors of our children, we need to be able to tell if our children have been molested. The following is some signs to look for:
- Fear of certain places, people, activities, or if they do not want to be alone with certain people. Never force a child to give affection to other people if they do not want to. This avoidance may indicate a problem.
- Afraid to go to bed, constant nightmares, or other related sleep problems.
- Changes in behavior, sudden mood swings, fearfulness, withdrawal from things around them, and excessive crying.
- Having an unusual interest in sexual matters or acting out sexual acts.
- Rebellious or aggressive behavior.
- Regression to infantile behavior.
- Pain, itching, bleeding, or rawness in the private areas.