Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert
In the past decade we have witnessed child abductions like never before. One would be led to believe that “times have changed” and abductions are a new phenomena. The reality is child abductions have been going on since the beginning of time. In the 30’s, Charles Lindbergh Jr.’s 20 month old son was abducted and it made huge US media coverage.
The media since, especially over the last decade, has deemed this a hot button and seems to have picked up on it. At any given time one can turn the channel and see live coverage of the next kid absconded. The old-school training, I and many others received early on was “don’t talk to strangers” as if strangers were the dangerous ones. Actually, most abductions occur when a family member takes the child as a result of a custody battle.
When a true stranger steals a child, they often don’t survive beyond 3 hours.
No matter what the statistics are, child abductions are real and they happen far too often.
Protecting yourself and children begins with understanding basic security.
As simple as it sounds, do not engage in behavior that creates an opportunity for the bad guy. Today most helicopter parents won’t take their eyes off their kids, and I don’t see that as a bad thing. I know many will argue that point, but I don’t care.
Always have recent pictures and video of your child for police if they go missing. If you are inclined to invest in a fingerprint of DNA kit that certainly doesn’t hurt.
In the event that a child was to be approached, the best defense is a good offense. Resistance has often been a proven tactic for removing oneself from a dangerous situation. Running, screaming, biting, hitting and kicking feel unnatural to teach your kids, but are certainly natural traits they possess. I say if they are good at it now, train them to do it better!
As soon as your child is at an age where they can comprehend this issue it’s time to discuss it. Age 4 they have a pretty good grasp, but age five they seem to be on solid footing.
Role play with your kids. This is a delicate balance of awareness and play. Intellectually introduce scenarios for them to respond to. See how they articulate a response. Let them figure it out on their own. Then if they don’t give you the answer you were looking for, work with them to understand the nature of their choice and its negative impact.
Be specific, but be careful how you associate your analogies. Example: “if a white van pulled up next to you” will freak your kid out every time they see a white van and only make them wary of vans opposed to those in cars or on foot.
Make sure to discuss the Internet and online predators. This is an entire future post. But in the meantime, do your research and know what risks they face. Take control of their access to PC’s and monitor everything they do.
Most importantly, this kind of education is about empowerment. It’s about taking control. It’s a gentle awareness that can very well save their lives. Don’t guilt them into making the right decisions and make them feel bad about not understanding the issue. If they aren’t ready to comprehend the issue then back off.
And because they spend the majority of their time at home, do all the necessary things to strengthen your fort. Yes, I call my home my fort. Invest in home alarms systems. Install home security cameras inside and outside the home. Install proper fencing that keeps them in and others out. Always keep an eye on people who look out of place. Don’t take your eyes off the ones who belong either. Question authority. And live in peace and harmony. The chances that something like this can happen are very very slim. But there is a chance. So these are your options. Here’s more from PsychologyToday