When a true stranger steals a child, the child often doesn’t survive beyond 3 hours. Protecting yourself and children begins with understanding basic security. Today most helicopter parents won’t take their eyes off their kids, and I don’t see that as a bad thing.
Always have recent photos and videos of your child for police. Invest in a fingerprint or DNA kit to help investigators.
In the event that a child is 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 natural traits they possess (My 2 year old proves this). 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.
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 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.