We can hear and read horrifying stories day by day about kidnapping. We can think, “thank god it’s not happening to me,” “It’s far from me,” “It would never happen to me,” or “I teach my children well to not go anywhere with a stranger.” That is well enough, but what if? Are you sure your child would not go anywhere with a nice lady or a gentleman who is very kind and tells a story that is irrecusable?
What can we do? How we can teach our kids?
At the beginning,when our child is a baby
- not running, not talking - you just take them for a walk in a baby carriage, your responsibility is to hold the pram all the time, never leave the baby alone, not even for a minute. You and the baby buggy must be connected all the time, because those who are looking for small babies are only waiting for that moment when you turn your attention away from the baby, then the worst can happen. Many times I have seen abandoned baby carriages in the middle of the aisle somewhere in the supermarket, or the clothing shop while the mother tries some clothes on. No way! The devil never sleeps!
Then when our kids are growing and starts running,
they have conversations with others, strangers, while we are on the playground talking with other mums and we are not always watching them. Having 3- to 6-year-olds is a very dangerous time. They are so open and friendly, always looking for new things, discovering the world and they even trust strangers, because they don’t have bad experiences yet.
The Internet, and social networks like Facebook can help those persons who want to commit this kind of crimes.
So, the first advice is, minimize the posting of photos and information online. It is very important, I know every parent is very proud, but please be careful, call the attention of those who share those pictures and information. That is the easiest way to know about the kids.
Unfortunately, the kindergarten or school could also be a place where the kidnappers work. They can say they came to pick up a child, or will take them to speech therapy, or many reasonable alibis, and they can easily kidnap your kid. Therefore, it’s very important to teach your child to save himself/herself from these kinds of attack.
To see how bad the situation is, let’s see the result of the British test conducted in 2013.
They tested nine kids between the age of 5-11, from the nine kids, seven walked away with the stranger from the playground in less than 3 minutes, while their parents were there too. Only two of them, two 8-year-olds, a boy and a girl, said no.
The British test also proved that the parents are 100% sure about their kids, because they teach them to not go anywhere with a violent and creepy man. But in the experiment, it was a nice and charming man who tried to lure in the kids. He showed a picture of Maxie, his dog. He asked their help, he’s looking for Maxie, who has disappeared, and brought the dog’s favorite ball too. The kids were very helpful, and they even hoped that they can pamper the dog when they will find it. While the mother of the boy made a quick phone call and took her eyes off his son, the stranger successfully lured the kid with the right words and behavior. The man who played the “kidnapper” was a father, so he knew what to say and how to behave.
And from nine kids, 7 walked out from the playground during the day, while their parents were there. Horrifying. The British ITV aired the film to encourage the parents to pay attention to kidnapping. Especially when in Great Britain, in just a span of 1 year, 273 children were kidnapped.
The test was loud and very sad, but it was probably necessary to call attention.
7 tips and rules which can help in this kind of situations:
- Who is who? Kids have to learn that nice men can still be dangerous. Play: ask the child to draw a stranger; if they draw a scary-looking person, raise their awareness about the other threat: the nice and friendly man that could be dangerous.
- Teach them to never risk their safety. Don’t talk to or accept sweets from strangers. Don’t go anywhere with strangers, between ages 5-8 is the most vulnerable time period. Later it’s also important because by then, they will spend more time alone, without the parents.
- “Don’t go, say no.” Teach them this sentence. If the stranger approaches them, they have to say this loud and clear, to be heard by others.
- Make a plan for that time when we can pick them up from school. Tell them exactly who is going to pick them up and that they shouldn’t go anywhere with anybody else. The kids must have your mobile number.
- Practice: imagine different kinds of stories, known as the “What if?” game. Teach them that anybody can say that we sent them to take you to speech therapy, or home. It does not matter what the alibi they have. If they don’t know that person, never go anywhere.
- Raise awareness on who the stranger is. If we have seen somebody twice, or we say hello to each other sometimes, that does not mean we know them. Talk it over who our friends are and who are not.
- Password: create a password which is only known by you and your kid. There was a kid in the USA who asked the password from the kidnapper!!! Her mother saved his son’s life with this idea. Only one thing for this to be effective: ask the child to not tell anybody, even if he/she wants to brag about it.
Do your best, but don’t be paranoid!