Child Alone_Kidnapping

How to Help Prevent Kidnapping

Every day, when at the grocery store, at the mall or at community events, children go wandering off on their own. You can see them walking aimlessly with no parent or older sibling in sight. Before the parents or sibling notices that the youngest part of the group has decided to go in a different direction, a stranger approaches the child and offers them some candy, a cookie, maybe even a puppy to take home, but first they have to go with them to an unmarked, undistinguishable van. The next thing you hear are the calls of someone looking for their child frantically, but it’s too late, they’ve already been kidnapped. It doesn’t have to happen like this.

One of my biggest pet peeves has become parents that don’t watch their child and instead, they allow them to go wander off wherever they’d like. The number of children and adolescents taken each year is astounding. The U.S. Department of Justice reports:

  • 797,500 children (younger than 18) were reported missing in a one-year period of time studied resulting in an average of 2,185 children being reported missing each day.
  • 203,900 children were the victims of family abductions.
  • 58,200 children were the victims of non-family abductions.
  • 115 children were the victims of “stereotypical” kidnapping. (These crimes involve someone the child does not know or someone of slight acquaintance, who holds the child overnight, transports the child 50 miles or more, kills the child, demands ransom, or intends to keep the child permanently.)

 

There is something that you can do, however, to help prevent your children from being kidnapped.

Keep a Firm Grip

When you’re out with your child, under the age of 14, if at all possible, you should always have a physical hand on them. Whether you’re holder their hand, holding onto the back of their shirt, or even holding onto a leash you attached to them, make sure that you have some sort of physical contact with them. If you can’t have physical contact with them, maybe they’re being grouchy or feeling independent and don’t want you touching them, at least have them at arm’s length so that you can grab them if need be.

With teenagers and adolescents, it’s no secret that they aren’t hugely touchy-feely most of the time and the last thing they want to do is hold your hand so this may not be feasible with your teenager.

Have a Watchful Eye

Observation is a huge key to preventing your child from being kidnapped. If you can’t have a physical hand on them for one reason or another, your eyes should be on them at least part of the time. Notice what your child is doing, where they’re going, and the people around them. Moreover, make sure to put those emotional feelers out there. By emotional feelers, I’m referring to that feeling you get when your child may be in danger or in some sort of trouble. Parents, you should know what I’m talking about here. That sixth sense you gain when you become a parent. Simply being aware and keeping a close eye on your child could be a lifesaver, but this does not mean that you should be a helicopter parent—your child does need some room to learn and grow.

Put the Cell Phone Down

Cell phones are both a blessing and a curse. They have most of us addicted to them so much that we hardly put them down. Well, I’m telling you right now: PUT THE CELL PHONE DOWN. The time that your child starts to wander off on their own is generally when you’re busy on your cell phone. You can multitask, you say? Then why is it that I see your child down another aisle while you’re face is glued to your phone? Trust me: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Candy Crush Saga, your friends, and family members, will all be there later, but your child may not be.

No Cell Phone

Call in the Reinforcements

When you’re going out—especially to a community event or amusement parks with large crowds—don’t go alone with your children. Bring your significant other if at all possible, but if not, bring your closest friend or family member. This is more so important if you have multiple children with you. With a second, or even third, person with you, you’ll be able to keep an eye on all of your children and know where they are at all times even if you look away. In my opinion, for every child there is, there should be an adult. This may not always be possible, but when you can do this, you should.

Know their Friends

In particular for adolescents, it’s important to know who their friends are. You never know who they are going to hang out with or what their family may be like. Make a point to get to know your child’s friends, their friend’s family, and their friends’ friends. Don’t go overboard with wanting to know every detail of their life and become a helicopter parent, but make connections. Knowing who and where your teen will go to when they’re angry or upset is something particularly important because if you have a fight with your child, they will more than likely go to that person and at least you will know where they are.

One thing to Remember

I don’t want to scare you, but you have to keep in mind that kidnappings are not always done by strangers. Friends, acquaintances, and even family members can be kidnappers. Make sure you really know the people with which you surround yourself. Be aware of what is going on in their lives because all it takes is a mental break, a miscarriage, a death of a child, or the undesirable need to have a child and yours could be the one they have their eye on. This is why it is important to always keep an eye on your child and be hyper vigilant when it comes to their wellbeing. Being hyper vigilant does not mean being a helicopter parent, it just means being more aware.

Keep your children and adolescents safe by doing a few simple actions when you’re out in public together.

Let’s Ramble:

How have things changed since you were a child? Do you think there are more dangers out there?

How do you protect your child or adolescent from being abducted or kidnapped?

References

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. (n.d.). Retrieved July 14, 2013, from http://www.missingkids.com/en_US/documents/PressKit_Statistics.pdf#page=1

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Felicia is currently in pursuit of a Master’s degree in the field of Couples, Marital and Family Therapy. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with family, singing, watching television and movies, and writing. In addition, she is profoundly interested in the many aspects of family and relationships and for this reason Familial Ramblings was created.


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23 thoughts on “How to Help Prevent Kidnapping

  1. Pingback: 5 Tips to a Successful First Date

  2. I definitely feel like times have changed,for the worse. Its unfortunate. But I make sure to keep an eye out on my daughter at all times! I can’t imagine what I would do if I lost her! Great tips!
    Virginia would luv for you to read..Sand By SayaMy Profile

  3. I love fostering independence, but don’t know how it can be done in this day and age. Of everything on your list though, its the cell phones that seem the most dangerous, they preoccupy us when we should be being vigilante, and the lull our kids into a false self of security when they should be aware/
    Granny Beth would luv for you to read..How to Turn a Living Space into Home.My Profile

    • It is really hard to give children the independence that they probably need in this day and age. Cell phones, ugh! Parents drive me nuts with their cell phone use. Just the other day I went to the store and someone’s child had wandered off while the parent was on the cell phone. Seeing this always makes me sigh. Thank you for commenting, Beth!
      Felicia would luv for you to read..Old School Blogging – The Fives EditionMy Profile

  4. I remember a lady tried to get me to her car when I was about 6. I can still recall her face and car. Scary! My kids know mom gets a little psycho when we leave the house and they aren’t to leave my side at all, even if they see someone they know. As I have 4 kids it’s been my greatest worry that I can’t keep hold of them while out; it is stressful. It is so much better with reinforcements. If I can’t go with my husband I won’t go to the park unless my friend is there with her kids so we can have two eyes on all the kids. Great post, I’ll share it with my friends!
    Rochelle would luv for you to read..How to Take Charge of Your Self-Doubt Part 2My Profile

    • Oh wow, thank you so much for sharing your story, Rochelle! That is really scary! It’s good that your children know to keep by you, even when they see someone your know–especially because you have 4. I hope these tips help other parents out there to remember to keep an eye on their children and gives them some tips on how to protect them.
      Felicia would luv for you to read..Old School Blogging – The Fives EditionMy Profile

  5. I am probably over protective when I take my niece and nephew out. In this day and age you have to be though. These are some wonderful tips. It just takes a second to take your eyes away and your little one could be gone :(
    Great post! It is going to help a lot of ppl!
    tabitha vos would luv for you to read..Finding the perfect pramMy Profile

  6. My girls know the drill! We live in Florida, seems like all the creepers live down here. You can never be too careful. I just can’t even imagine someone stealing my child.

    • That’s great to hear that your girls know the drill! The main picture at the top is actually from Florida, haha. We had been at the Magic Kingdom and everywhere you looked there was a child wandering around with no parent insight. Gives me the chills! Thanks for commenting!!
      Felicia would luv for you to read..How to Help Prevent KidnappingMy Profile

  7. I actually remember a kidnapping in my town when I was about 11 or 12. A father took his son from his mother. They had helicopters, K-9′s and all sorts of truckloads of people looking. It was crazy for a small 800 population rural farm town. Great blog though!

  8. When I was a kid, kidnapping was nearly unheard of, especially in the small town I lived in. There was some threat of it, but nothing like it is now.

    I think it’s important to find a good middle ground between watching your kids and keeping them safe along with letting them be kids, be outside, etc. without having you watch their every move. You don’t want to be too paranoid and actually scare the kids so much that they won’t go outside at all.
    Geoffrey would luv for you to read..My back to school shopping listMy Profile

    • That was my feeling as well, Geoffrey. I can’t seem to remember ever really hearing about kidnappings.

      I agree with you, a middle ground is ideal. That way you won’t become a helicopter parent who your kids don’t necessarily want to be around. Also, for your own benefit as well. Thanks for commenting!
      Felicia would luv for you to read..How to Help Prevent KidnappingMy Profile