Last year, a nearby community experienced the horror of a child kidnapping. Jessica Ridgeway was kidnapped and killed within a weeks’ time frame. She was 10-years-old and walking to school when it happened. She was covering the same few blocks to a friends house that she had covered numerous times before. A suspect is in custody and the parents now have to suffer as this guy recants his earlier statements and sends them and the community through a painful and expensive trial.
I grew up in the last great age of freedom. I grew up at a time when my parents would tell me to get out of the house at 9:00am and not expect to see me until dinner. Today, that’s unheard of. While there are 59-million children in the U.S. and only 3,000-4,000 stranger abductions annually, just ONE abduction is too many for me. We definitely live in the age of caution when it comes to our kids. Author Ira Lipman in his book, How to Be Safe: Protect Yourself, Your Home, Your Family, and Your Business from Crime, has several good suggestions on keeping the kids safe.
- Young kids should not be unattended or allowed to play outside without adult supervision (Lipman 202). They just don’t have the judgement at a young age to discern friend from foe.
- Teach your kids what to do when they become separated from you in a store (Lipman 202).
- Teach your kids what to do if someone is trying to take them – tell them to make noise and run away, preferably to an adult female, with kids as these individuals typically are the most helpful and least threatening.
- Make sure your kids know their name, address and phone number, plus their parents names (Lipman 201).
- The greatest hours of risk are between 3 and 6 pm; many times an abductor will ask a child for help finding a lost puppy (or similar story) or may even act disabled (Lipman 199)
I personally recommend The Safe Side videos from Julie Clark (of Baby Einstein fame) and John Walsh of America’s Most Wanted and the Adam Walsh abduction. I’ve recommended them before in this blog series and I’m recommending them again as I believe they are that good. They also have an Internet danger DVD.
The other side of protecting your child is to protect them from people they know, their caregivers, close friends and family members. Make sure you check out the daycare facility personally. Watch for signs that the kids are left playing by themselves for long periods of time, major staff turnover, few organized activities, harsh or rude behavior by caregivers or physical punishment or children left alone for long periods of time (Lipman 197).
Remember that many child molesters (a) seek jobs that will put them in routine contact with children and (b) are often very well known to their victims (Lipman 199). Teach your child about their private parts and make it safe for them to come to you if they feel someone has touched them inappropriately or asked them
Now, that said, let your kids out to play. Depriving your child of outdoor playtime and interaction with friends can negatively affect their development. Take reasonable precautions, to the reasonable things as stated above and remember that our fears, irrationalities and paranoia are often transferred to our kids.questions that make them nervous. Teach them the way to say no to an adult – children will confide in you if he or she is convinced that you can help (Lipman 198).
Lipman, Ira A. How to Be Safe: Protect Yourself, Your Home, Your Family, and Your Business from Crime. Pleasantville, NY: Reader’s Digest Association, 2011. Print.