After several close call incidents like the one in Huntsville’s Blossomwood Neighborhood and reports of an attempted child abduction in Hazel Green- as a parent you may be wondering what you can do to teach your children to stay safe without scaring them.
It is important for you (the parent) to note that stranger abductions are rare. Most cases involve a family member, or someone your child knows well. A study published by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2002, during a one-year period studied:
– 797,500 children under age 18 were reported missing
– 203,900 of those were the victims of family abductions
– 58,200 of those were the victims of nonfamily abductions
– 115 children were the victims of “stereotypical kidnapping,” where the child was abducted by someone the child did not know who held the child overnight, transported the child 50 miles or more, killed the child, demanded ransom or intended to keep the child permanently.
Deborah Callins, prevention director at the National Children’s Advocacy Center in Huntsville said “Parents do need to be vigilant in knowing where their children are at all times, but the number of strangers who abduct children is very low.”
You may be questioning if your child is old enough to talk to them about strangers. The NCAC has said that if you child is old enough to play in the front yard alone, then they are old enough to hear about stranger danger. Even if it is just at a basic level.
Callins two recommendations for educating your kids are:
- Role Playing– when you role play certain scenarios, you can correct your child if they should or shouldn’t do something they mentioned. You don’t have mentally scar your child with outlandish scenarios. Make sure they know the methods strangers use. Don’t ever go with someone who offers you something in return. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, these are the five most used tricks by individuals attempting to abduct children:
– Teach them to listen to that inside voice, that ‘uh-oh feeling’ in their stomach.
– Offering the child a ride
– Offering the child candy or sweets
– Asking the child questions
– Offering the child money
– Using an animal
Those would likely be the most useful role-playing scenarios.
- Use the Buddy System– In the summer months or after school when kids don’t have an adult looming over them constantly, it’s crucial that they use the buddy system. Don’t let your child walk to the pool, ride their bike, or explore the neighborhood alone. Make sure they are with a large group of kids or watch them get to wherever they are going.
More safety tips for parents can be found on the National Children’s Advocacy Center’s website here.