Preventing Kidnapping and Keeping Yourself Safe

How to Prevent a Kidnapping

News about a kidnapped child or teen can worry parents everywhere. But it’s important to remember that most kids pass through childhood safely. About 2,100 missing-children reports are filed each day in the U.S. Many cases can be solved more easily when parents can provide key information about their kids, like: height, weight, eye color, and a clear recent photo to police or private investigators.

Kidnapping is a very real threat, wherever you may be in the world or whatever city you may live in. It’s not just a problem in third world or politically unstable countries. Each year, tens of thousands of adults and children go missing due to kidnapping, the reason for which may not always be related to money. To protect yourself and your family, here are tips on how to prevent kidnapping:

Stranger Danger

Talk with children about the trusted adults in their life who help keep them safe, and what to do when they encounter someone they don’t know. Teach them never to get into a car or go along with someone unfamiliar to them—even if the stranger is asking if they might know the “lost puppy” in their car. Practice with your child to forcefully say “no!” and move away as fast as possible, loudly yelling for help.

Individuals who prey on children wait for an opportunity when the child is alone. Children should not be outside their home by themselves, even for short periods of time. They should walk to and from school and bus stops in groups.

Working together with trained investigators and other families in your neighborhood to develop a formal plan for kids to walk together is a good idea. Parents are encouraged to join or organize a Neighborhood Watch program in their community.

Your child should know to always tell you about being approached by a stranger―even if someone said they would hurt him or her, or you, if he or she told. Let your child know he or she will not be in trouble, and you will protect him or her from harm.

Preventing Child Abductions

Young children should:

  1. never say they are alone if they answer the phone: they can offer to take a message or say their parents will phone back.
  2. never answer the door if they are alone.
  3. not invite anyone into the house without the permission of a parent or babysitter.
  4. not go into people’s houses without letting anyone know where they are.
  5. never get into anyone’s car without permission.
  6. not take candy or other gifts from strangers or anyone else without asking a parent first.
  7. never play in deserted buildings or isolated areas.
  8. scream and scatter books and belongings if they are forced toward a building or car.
  9. move away from a car that pulls up beside them if they do not know the driver.
  10. be taught their full telephone number and address.
  11. be taught that it’s all right to say ‘no’ to an adult if the person wants them to do something you’ve taught them is wrong.
  12. know that no one has the right to touch any part of their bodies that a bathing suit would cover.
  13. tell you, school authorities or a police officer about anyone who exposes private parts.
  14. tell you if someone has asked them to keep a secret from you.
  15. go to the nearest cashier if lost or separated from you in a store or mall.

Teens should:

  1. tell you where they are at all times or leave a written or recorded message at home.
  2. never hitchhike.
  3. avoid shortcuts through empty parks, fields, laneways or alleys.
  4. run home or go to the nearest public place and yell for help if they are being followed.
  5. learn to recognize suspicious behavior and remember a description of the person or vehicle to give you or the police. Write the plate number in the dirt or snow if nothing else is available.
  6. if attacked for money, jewelry or clothing give it up rather than risk injury.
  7. feel that they can talk to you and call you to pick them up any time, any place.

Parents should:

  1. avoid clothing and toys with your child’s name on it. A child is less likely to fear someone that knows his/her name.
  2. check all potential babysitters and older friends of your child.
  3. never leave a child alone in a public place, stroller or car. Not even for a minute.
  4. always accompany young children to the bathroom in a public place and advise them never to play in or around the area.
  5. always accompany your child on door-to-door activities, i.e. hallowe’en, school fundraising campaigns, etc.
  6. point out safe houses or homes with the Block Parent sign where children can go if they are in trouble.
  7. keep an up-to-date colour photograph of your child, a medical and dental history, and have your child fingerprinted.