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I wanted to share this story with you to reiterate the importance of keeping a sharp eye on your children, especially in crowded locations. This happened just a few days ago to a long-time friend of mine.
Today a man claiming to be my son’s grandfather tried to abduct him from <business name redacted>. The man was inside watching him, learned his name, and then went to the front desk to pick him up. An employee took my son up front. Thankfully my son told them he didn’t know the man and refused to leave with him. A mother saw what happened and knew something was up, alerted my husband, and ran to the front. In the commotion, the man disappeared. This could have ended very badly. Please do not let your children out of your sight, especially at places that have kids running all around. We are extremely thankful that my son reacted the way he did and for the mother who told my husband. <business name redacted> will be getting a visit from me tomorrow. This should never happen again.
This could have ended very badly but thankfully did not. The question we should be asking ourselves, though, is are we as parents prepared for a situation like this, and more importantly, have we prepared our children on how to react to a situation like this.
Jim Higley shared some of these tips on The Blog on the Huffinton Post last year on how to keep kids safe from abductors. I have included the tips below, and the original article can viewed here. More information can also be found at www.childwatch.org.
Safety Tips for Children:
- Know your name, address, and phone number(s).
- Learn how and when to call 911.
- If you are scared of someone, RUN to safety.
- It’s OK to be RUDE to a grown-up if you feel you are unsafe.
- Learn the difference between an “OK” secret and a “NOT OK” secret and beware of an adult that asks you to keep a secret from parents.
- Have a “Call List” and know how and when to use it.
- Don’t let anyone on the phone or at the door know that you are home alone.
- If you ever get lost in a mall, ask the closest store clerk for help and then stay where you are until you are found.
- Avoid shortcuts when you are walking from one place to another.
- If you are ever “scooped,” scream, kick, bite and FIGHT as hard as you can to get away! NEVER trust what the “scooper” tells you.
- Tell your parents or a trusted adult if someone is asking you to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable. Listen to your “Uh Oh” voice.
- Always ask your parents for permission before getting on the Internet.
- Never talk to people online without your parent’s permission
And Some Tips for Parents
- Work hard to establish trust and communication with your children from day one!
- Don’t ever leave children unattended in a vehicle, whether it is running or not.
- Make sure you know how to find or contact your children at all times.
- Take an active role in your children’s activities.
- As tired as you may be, take the time to listen intently to your children when they tell you they had a bad dream. There could be a reason. Trust your instincts.
- Talk to your children about inappropriate incidences you hear on the news and get their perspective.
- Question and monitor anyone who takes an unusual interest in your children.
- Teach your children that they can be rude to an adult if they feel threatened in any way. They need to hear it from your directly because this message often contradicts everything they have heard before.
- Teach children the difference between an “OK” secret and a “NOT OK” secret. Assure your child that you would never want him/her to feel like they had to keep a “NOT OK” secret from you.
- Have your children practice their most annoying scream. They may need to use it someday.
- Check websites for registered offenders in your neighborhood. Talk to your children about why these people should be avoided.
- Keep your family computer in a central location that is easily monitored and avoid letting your children have internet access in unsupervised areas (i.e. computers in theirbedrooms, etc.).