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Child Abduction Prevention Tips Everyone Should Know

Ohio police are investigating a case involving an eight-year-old girl who narrowly escaped an abduction attempt.

The girl was walking home from her aunt's house when she saw a man standing next to a van. She said, "the man didn't say anything, but grabbed her arm and tried to pull her into his van."

The girl explained, "I kicked him as hard as I can [sic] and you can see my shoes—one is torn up. My mom says 'Fight back,' and I just fight [sic] back for my own self."

The girl told police that she screamed and kicked the man several times until he let her go and drove away. "Hamilton police investigate attempted child abduction," www.wlwt.com (Jan. 31, 2013).

Commentary and Checklist

A Department of Justice (DOJ) study conducted in 2002 found that "[m]ore than 200,000 children were abducted by family members, more than 58,000 children were abducted by nonfamily members, and 115 children were the victims of 'stereotypical' [stranger] kidnapping." These figures illustrate why children, parents, and caregivers need to learn about preventing abductions.

The DOJ study showed that the number of non-family abductions increases with the age of the intended victim, with the highest percentage of incidents occurring with children between the ages of 15 and 17. The study found that streets, parks, and other public areas were the most common places for abductions to occur. This demonstrates the importance of continuing to teach children well into their teens about the dangers of getting close to, or into, a vehicle driven by someone they do not know.

Kidpower.org provides some tips for keeping children and teens safe from abduction:
  • Teens and older children should stay away from unknown vehicles. If someone asks them to get into a vehicle, they should find a safe adult immediately.
  • Teach older children and teens the importance of staying together and the safety of groups.
  • Teach teens that safety is more important than manners. Older children sometimes do not resist a dangerous situation because they are trying to be polite.
  • Help older kids and teens practice how to "think first" before talking to a stranger when they are on their own. Tell them that they do not have to talk, but if they choose to, they need to give quick responses ("I don't know," "Over there," or "It's two o'clock) while continuing to walk. They should never give personal information.
  • Teach teens and older children to use their voices and bodies to get away when someone is physically threatening. Explain that a voice can get the attention of people who can help. Have them practice yelling "NO! STOP!" using a voice that is loud and strong.
  • Explore the option of age-appropriate self-defense training.
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