My (almost) Abduction
Once as a ten-year-old, I was followed by a car as I was walking home.
I was just down the street from my house when I noticed a car had pulled close to the sidewalk and was driving just behind me. They must’ve been going 2 MPH at the most, and they did that all the way down one side of the block.
My childhood best friend lived on the corner of the block, and as I rounded the corner with the car still following closely behind me, I noticed my friend’s dad standing on their front porch.
As soon as I waved at him, the car pulled away from the sidewalk and sped off down the street.
What I wish I would’ve done
To this day, I have no idea what would have happened if my friend’s dad hadn’t been outside that day. I have no idea if the car was purposefully stalking me, just waiting to snatch me or roll down the window to talk to me to try to lure me in somehow.
All I know is that I was aware I was being followed and I was alone, and I didn’t know what to do as it was happening. I froze.
The thing is, I was walking down the street I lived on and knew and trusted almost all of my neighbors. I could have gone to almost any front door and knocked just to feel safer and create some distance between me and the stalking car.
To this day, I can’t tell you why I didn’t do it, even though the thought had crossed my mind.
How do we teach children about staying safe?
What can we do to make sure children feel confident taking action and control of a situation they don’t feel safe and comfortable in? There won’t always be an adult conveniently standing and waving on their front porch and children will need to know what to do if an abduction situation ever arises.
Runaway or Abduction?
Many children who go missing run away or have had miscommunication with their parents about where they should be, ending up in a different location. Make sure your child knows exactly where they are supposed to meet up with you or another trusted adult before leaving them.
7 out of 10 kids would walk off with a stranger
In a social experiment on children, Joey Salads documented himself approaching children on a playground—after obtaining permission from their parents—and asked them to go with him. He walked up to the children with a dog and asked them if they would like to see more puppies. A shocking 70% of children agreed to walk off with him.
Most kidnappers don’t look scary
Make sure that your child is aware that kidnappers don’t look scary. Kids may tend to picture a kidnapper as a man in some kind of disguise or just acts weird and creepy.
Tell your child that they shouldn’t walk off with any stranger. Not even the friendly guy with the cute puppy or the nice lady who tells a child to go with her because their mother told her to pick them up.
Ways to Prepare for Abductions
Every 40 seconds in the United States a child goes missing or is abducted.
Many cases can be solved more easily if parents are prepared to provide key information about their child such as height, weight, eye color, and a clear, recent photo.
Parents can also be prepared for the unthinkable with:
- Having custody documents in order
- Keep your child’s dental and medical records up to date.
- Having ID-like photos taken of children every six months and have them fingerprinted. Many local police departments sponsor fingerprinting programs.
- Make online safety a priority. Make sure your child is aware that there are online predators that will stalk them and get the child to trust them and meet up with them.
- Set boundaries about the places your child goes. Tell them they they must let you know when they are leaving the house, yard, car, ect.
- Avoid dressing your kids in clothing with their name on it. Children tend to trust adult who know their names.
- Never leave children alone in a car or stroller, even for a short time.
- Check caregiver’s and babysitter’s references and background carefully before hiring them.