The kidnaping, rape and murder of a child is one of the most heinous crimes imaginable. At the time the child comes up missing there is some chance that he will be found alive but as time wears on the likelihood that the child is unharmed decreases considerably.
Many parents are uncomfortable talking to their children about sex crimes but to keep your child safe, keep him informed. If your child is young there’s no need to go into great detail but as they get older teach the child to be aware of his surroundings. A strange man standing by the playground could go unnoticed by most children as they play but a child who is aware could save the life of a friend or himself.
The first thing to teach your kids is not to leave with or take anything from a stranger. However, most kids get a mental picture of a stranger who seems dangerous or appears evil. Usually this is not the case – a predator can seem harmless and friendly. Teach your child that strangers can act sweet and kind, and may even be in disguise. For example, some predators initiate someone else into helping them grab their prey. A teenage girl isn’t as likely to be afraid of a young woman who approaches her as she would be if a strange man ran up to her. Teach your teenager to avoid allowing a strange woman to approach her by telling the person that she must continue home. Tell your child that it’s not acceptable to even stop for a moment to chat with the woman.
Practice scenarios with your child. Predators have been known to use such ruses as asking a child to help him find his lost puppy, wearing a fake cast and acting like he needs help to carry something, or telling the child that a parent or sibling sent him. Set down rules such as telling the child to never, under any circumstances, veer off the course he takes while walking to and from school. Preferably, have your child always walk with groups of other children.
Many parents think that they need to be more protective over a daughter than a son. Not true. Boys are just as likely to be kidnaped as girls. No matter what gender or age your child is try to insure that he is safe by having him walk with others, take the bus, or by driving him where he needs to go. Not all kidnaping takes place to or from school. Kids have been kidnaped from stores, church, a friend’s house or even from their own beds.
The idea is not to scare your child senseless but to keep him informed, although a little fear often goes a long way. It’s almost impossible to discuss kidnaping and sex crimes with a child without causing some fear. The child should always be told that you are talking with them about this because you want them to be aware, not scared.
Discuss with your child things he or she can do should he ever be kidnaped. First stress that the child should do whatever the person tells them to – until help arrives. Don’t encourage the child to risk his safety by fighting, biting, kicking or attacking the person except when the initial kidnaping is taking place. If a child puts up quite a struggle the offender may be tempted to run from the commotion. Teach your child to scream, kick, claw or even bite while a person is attempting the kidnaping.
Once the child is in the clutches of the perpetrator the child should no longer fight. This aggravation could push the offender into taking unpleasant actions against the child. But, tell the child that if he is ever grabbed in public to scream loudly and repeatedly. The screams shouldn’t be random. Have them practice screaming things like “I’m being kidnaped!” or “This is not my parent – help!”. Although people may not be close enough to assist the child they can take notice of the car or perpetrator’s descriptions.
Should the kidnaper be bold enough to take your child into a public place after kidnaping teach your child to be on the look out for ways to communicate with others. If in a public place the child can run to a group of people screaming “Help”. The child can grab hold of a table leg and scream to other patrons that he doesn’t want to leave with this person.
Teach your child to try subtle techniques that might help him to be remembered by others. Coughing loudly, pretending to sneeze repeatedly or even acting suspicious can get the attention of others. Body language is another way to get some people’s suspicions aroused. Crossing arms across the chest, walking with head hanging down or standing where you’re leaning away from the perpetrator can be signs that another patron might notice.
Your child should be taught how to kick lights out from inside a car trunk, how to remove a button from his shirt to stick into the car’s key slot, how to leave hidden messages or other tricks that might save his life. Aggravating the kidnaper is not part of the plan so the child should know when to pull the stunts and when not to put up any resistance. A kidnaper may allow the child to use a public restroom, for instance, then search the restroom after he’s done. Upon finding notes or other clues left by the child the offender can get quite abusive and violent with the child.
Teach the child to leave as much evidence of the crime as possible. Pulling out a few strands of hair and leaving them on the floor of the suspect’s car or even leaving bite marks on the vinyl upholstery can help connect the criminal to the crime, if he’s ever caught.
There are classes that teach children how to defend themselves against attackers. These classes should be a must for most kids. Search the web for other tips on teaching your child what to do if ever kidnaped. Most of all know where your child is and who he is with at all times. Safety for kids starts with the parents.