I will never forget the day nearly 15 years ago that I was almost kidnapped. It is something I will never forget. The feeling of absolute dread I felt at 15 years old, is still so palpable. Writing these child abduction tips, and interviewing Police Officers about it totally took me back to my own near child abduction, which I decided I wanted to get personal and share with you. So, here we go.
I got lucky that day- when I got away. Because, I was definitely not prepared for it. I cannot even imagine what that would be like at the age of 5 or 6.
I was in my first year of high school, that year. It was early Fall, still warm out. I was overly trusting, in that neighborhood as I walked the backstreets home from high school that day, a bit early to make it in time for a scheduled appointment later that afternoon. Child abduction only happened to little kids, my teenage self believed. Turns out I was wrong. Big time wrong.
Out of nowhere an older car pulled up, and then slowed down to match my walking pace. It continued to just follow me as I walked. I picked up my pace and the car again matched mine. I continued to walk faster and tightened my grip on my backpack. Again, the car did. I didn’t want to look. I wanted so badly for the car to drive away and for it to not be real.
But when the car remained, I finally gathered up the courage to glance over. A man with sunglasses and a baseball hat met my eyes as his window rolled down halfway. His unshaven face was serious, his stare unwavering. “Why don’t you just get in.” He said to me as if he knew me, lowering his sunglasses just enough to see me with his eyes for the longest moment.
His stare made you feel yucky, like he was invading your privacy just with a look. He looked crazy, with a very thin layer of calm and calculated on top, all wrapped up into one. The kind of thing you don’t quite envision fully until it happens to you.
Instant chills raced down my spine and this sick feeling arrived in my stomach as It all started to sink in. I could hear him call to me again, this time with less patience – a good bit more frustration and anger this time-
“Get. In. The. Car.” He demanded, with a sugary fake “NOW.” on top.
I instantly stopped. . And so did the time around me, for a second.
Time really does slow down in moments like that.
I think we both realized at the same time that we were not going to get what either of us wanted. He saw my horror struck face and instantly sped up past me, the old heavy car lurching forward. Then, as I saw him start to turn the beat up car around to come back for me.
I knew with all the dread in the world, that it was happening.
But I wished against all logic at 16, so badly it was not.
Running was an impulse. I dashed sideways half out of control, trying not to trip as my backpack slammed against me, my chemistry book pulling me down. I fled through the old narrow alleyway like I was running away in a terrible nightmare you can’t wake from, and then realized it was happening.
I was flushed, and the panic was pounding in my throat making my breath sharp and difficult to take as I raced down the way. I ran like I’d never run before. The anticipation of not knowing where he was, made my chest want to burst it was so tight.
Its amazing how fast you can move when you are truly scared to death, for your own life. I didn’t know where I was going. I couldn’t think. I could just run. I just knew I would run until I didn’t hear that awful old car again.
Just as the sound of the car started to get closer, in a panic I banked an unexpected right and raced through someones side yard full of tall sunflowers, then vegetables-running and tripping over the little string tied stakes, with all I had.
…Run. Run as fast as you can.
“It never occurred once to me, to just knock on a door and find help. I was running out of mere adrenaline and fear.”
I was running for my life.
I cleared what was left of the yard, dodged a parked car and an older frail looking woman taking groceries inside (who looked at me like I was nuts). I flashed past her and ran another block, turning my head every other second wildly searching for the man in his car, until at last I came to a familiar Public Bus Stop.
It was on the line home from school, which now was thankfully filled with chatty kids from school. I pushed my way to the middle of the group, not minding the looks and bent down- hiding myself in the crowd. I heaved and tried to slow my breathing while I waited for the bus and hid from the world.
I was safe there in the number of kids, for now.
I would never walk that way home again. I would never tell a parent or notify the Police.
I had just experienced, what would later become a statistic categorized as “a very uncommon” (stranger) child abduction attempt.
I would come to find out as a grownup that many of these attempts are never reported, world wide. Just like mine.
So let me ask you this:
Have you truly prepared your child for the possibility of their abduction?
Have you truly prepared yourself?
Yes, its a bit redundant of a question-but ask yourself. Ask your mommy friends. Find out if they’ve ‘had the stranger danger talk’ with their kids, or thought twice about what they would do. You might be surprised at how few haven’t put any plans in place, any talks in place, or any education in place for the little ones they love the most, that can protect themselves the very least.
Some of us don’t know how to talk about it with our little loved ones…
Others don’t know when is best to talk about it, or simply how to approach it…
Today with the help of some great Police Interviews, and after much research, I am going to simply and quickly guide you through the basics. I want to give you the child abduction tips that I never got. To help shine some light on the uneven path ahead as you walk your way step by step through a tough topic. Then, you can turn around and help someone you love, to learn this information.
Sharing is caring after all. And this? This is a big one.
So today, honor the little ones in your life and learn from this.
Think of their sweet little faces and their happy little hearts. Lets keep ‘um that way.
Betcha your ready for those child abduction tips finally.
Thought so. . Here they are!
Child Abduction Tips
Tips from a Police Officer’s Perspective
Please note, the following information was collected after months of interviews conducted personally by me, with Policemen and Women serving across our nation. Specializing in Child Abductions Task Forces and Missing Persons Units, these officers report to hundreds of missing persons cases each month to investigate reports of missing juveniles. These men and women took time to be interviewed in the hopes that your family may benefit from this information.
Read it. Share it. Like it. Remember it. Teach it. Re-read it. Know it. Enforce it. Do it.
Across the world as summer comes to an end, the hustle and bustle of the back to school vibe has begun and parents everywhere take pause for a longer moment, just before sending their little ones back to school once more.
That pause in us, is questioning their safety in so many ways.
We try to recount all that we’ve taught them, to reassure ourselves they will be OK. . .
We’ve spent years preparing them for the big wide world in every way we could. We taught them to look both ways for cars before crossing, to wash their hands before they eat and not to talk to strangers. We even taught them how to dial 9-1-1.
You’ve prepared them.
But now I’m here to prepare you, so maybe one day you can prevent a heartbreaking child abduction from ever even happening.
Know the Facts
-Become Abduction Aware-
⇨ An alarming 7 out of 10 children will walk away with an abductor despite being briefly warned not to by parents. This is why “stranger-danger” talks are paramount.
⇨ Almost all children that are taken, are abducted by family members, friends or acquaintances. Stranger abductions do occur, but are slightly more uncommon.
⇨ In 80% of abductions by strangers, the initial contact between the abductor and the child happens within a quarter mile of the child’s home.
⇨ Of the roughly 100 children that are abducted by strangers, HALF will never make it home to their families
⇨ Local government often provides tracking devices for developmentally disabled people and adults with dementia.
⇨ Autistic children often head for the nearest body of water, due to their fascination with it.
⇨There are an estimated 20 failed kidnapping attempts to every 1 successful kidnapping in the US. Countless children are tested, and many reports are never made. Make sure your children are prepared.
⇨ Many Wireless phone companies offer free text-to-911 services in case a victim cannot call by phone to alert the Police of their danger, check local eligibility
⇨ Add in an “I.C.E” Contact (In case of emergency) into your child’s phone, this should list the main Parent/Caregiver. If the phone is ever found, it can really help.
⇨ Consider adding a tracking feature to your child’s phone. Some are free. Make sure to test them out. Some offer map parameters that you can set up to notify you if they leave that area.
⇨ Every 6 Months, have an ID type photo taken of your child when they are young. On the back list: child’s height, weight, hair color, eye color and file it where its easy to access.
⇨ Don’t dress you children in clothes with their name on it.
⇨ Make your social media private and don’t allow pictures of your child (especially with their name/location) to be posted
⇨ Make your social media private and don’t allow pictures of your child (especially with their name/location) to be posted.
⇨ With older kids, make a habit of taking their picture each time they leave. It will be current which is a game changer to investigators during a rapid search.
⇨ Supervise young children and keep track of older kids (make them check in.) Pay attention to the area your child plays in.
“Even if it sounds a little extreme, try to remember. It could save your child one day. Set a reminder in your phone, it’ll only take a second.” – Police Deputy Metro Richmond, Virginia
⇨ Many local Police Departments offer free youth finger and foot printing several times a year, call and get it done.
⇨ If there is someone that your child is forbidden to go anywhere with, make their teacher or caregiver aware of it in writing and in person. Be sure to include a picture of the individual.
⇨ Make sure your child knows their full name, address as well as your name and phone number. If they cannot memorize it, get them an ID bracelet
*For younger children, see more information on toddler & child tracking solutions at bottom of page
⇨ If there is any family unrest going on or relationships change, set up a time to talk with your child’s teacher about people of concern that may not pick up your child.
*You could also have the teacher require I.D for any new caregiver that will be picking up your child. It takes mere seconds for that to be easily verified by the teacher and can keep your child safe
“Trust your gut. If a strange vehicle/person is hanging out, get a tag, description or even wave at them and say hello. People doing wrong don’t like to be noticed.” –Police Dept, WA
⇨ Create a one of a kind “safe word” that only you and your child know
“Safe Word” – A safety word that only a child and parent/approved caregiver know, that establishes a confirmation of trust and safety for young children.
The concept: If a child is ever approached by an Abductor claiming to be sent by: “Mom. I am driving you home, because she’s running late.” They can always ask for the code word before ever getting in the car, every time.
⇨ Create a one of a kind “Danger-Name”
“Danger-name” – A name similar to your child’s true name, but one that you actually NEVER truly refer to them by.
The Concept: If an Abductor ever kidnapped and forced your child to call and check in, saying they were OK and they used their Danger Name, you would immediately know they were in life threatening danger and to call 9-1-1.
An example below, to give you a better idea of what this might look like:
Real Name Real Nickname Danger-Name
|John||Johnboy||“Johnny” or “Johnathon|
Tips for choosing a Danger-Name:
-Do this process with your immediate family that your child trusts and loves (i.e: Mom & Dad) to set the tone as serious.
I.e: Do NOT include anyone in this meeting that makes the child uneasy or that they don’t feel close/safe with. Their body language will show you.
–Make sure the Danger-Name would sound believable to an Abductor
-Have your child repeat back out loud how the process works until you feel confident they understand.
-Have them understand the secrecy and importance of their Danger-Name.
-If you can’t think of a name, Google Search nicknames for their birthname!
Teach ”Stranger Danger”
-A new way to talk to kids about Abduction-
Wondering what age to have the talk? We’ve got you covered, check it out.
⇨ 3 – 4 year olds, tend to be aware of “Strangers” but hold back on the ‘stranger danger’ talk for now. This is a very supervised age, due to their lack of judgement and poor impulse control. Also, talking about strangers to this young age can be greatly upsetting and actually backfire and cause social fears, so focus on safety rules first.
⇨ 5 – 8-year-olds should have the ‘Stranger Danger’ talk as soon as you feel they are ready. This age is much more likely to be unsupervised out in public at points in the day than any preschooler. They are out on bikes or walks with friends, and often play outside.
Break down the term ‘Stranger Danger’ for your kids and keep it simple.
“There are two parts to it, because not all danger comes from strangers. Many times its not a stranger- its family or inner circle. And that’s hard to talk about. ”
Type Who Example Where
|Someone they don’t know||-Someone asking a child for some kind of help like
finding a lost dog or kitten,
-offering to give them something: a ride home or candy
-Offering to show them something special somewhere
-claiming they’re there to pick them up for a parent
|-Someone luring them away from a public place
-Someone following them
-Someone trying to enter the home when they are alone
|Someone they do know including extended Family friends, athletic coach, Extra Curricular Activity Instructors, Religious Affiliations, Volunteers and more||Someone doing something “tricky”, asking your child to keep a secret and not tell parents. Someone who touches them inappropriately. Kids should be encouraged to trust their gut and that no comment to a parent informing them is a wrong one. That they can share any time about anything, even a promised secret.||Someone taking them somewhere private/alone asking them to keep a secret. Someone forcing them to do something they don’t like to do. Someone that makes them feel scared.|
⇨ Run through examples of “stranger danger” with your children and talk with them about what to do in each situation. Practice with them at the right time of day, when you really can have their focus.
⇨ Practice Child Abduction Tips & Prevention every 6-8 weeks to keep it fresh in their heads by setting an alarm in your phone to remind you.
⇨ Role play to teach, not to scare. Run through drills, having children take turns playing the parts in different situations for both types above.
⇨ Make Child Abduction tips fun and informative. You want this to become second nature so they know what to do immediately without hesitation. Short attention spans? Make it positive and fun by rewarding good answers and clever thinking with treats/toys/stickers.
⇨ Go over the Safety Word and Danger Name from above. Randomly quiz them at various times to make this knowledge second nature for better chances.
Toddler and Child Tracking Solutions
-Helping little ones stay safe-
When little ones leave our care for the day to go to daycare, preschool or kindergarten it can be worrisome to any parent and its totally understandable. They are little, defenseless and innocent. While some of us are able to let this worry go after the transition happens, others continue to carry that worry and its hard on us.
But thanks to modern technology, and a recommendation from a Police Officer, it doesn’t have to be. Introducing child trackers, the functional and simple way to keep tabs on your little one no matter where you are. If this sounds like something that might ease your mind, like it did mine with my little one who started school recently, then check out the list below. I researched many, many, many, then narrowed it down after research and police opinion and wanted to share. Please read up on each to make the best decision for you! I highly recommend.
JLEKONG GPS Tracker
This tracker is a lightweight option that is easy to tuck away in your child’s backpack. With the ability to download the program to your phone, you can keep an eye on your child’s whereabouts all day to ensure they are where they need to be. You can’t put a price on safety, and having the peace of mind that they are OK makes it truly worth it to invest in this.
Perks: GPS Positioning, Wifi, NO Monthly Service Plan, Real Time, Dual Call Function, Lightweight, Waterproof Tracker for Children
“There is no long term contract required, and I cannot put a cost on the safety of my child and my peace of mind relative to that goal.” Customer Review
Tile GPS Tracker
More Info Here
The slim and sleek Tile tracker is another clever and convenient way to keep tabs on your little one throughout the day. It keeps track of each last logged position of your little one, and if you ever lose your child it amazingly and anonomously connects with other Tile Trackers in the community to geo locate your missing child. This little guy is also capable of finding many other items, so it will remain useful after you quit using it for your little one.
Well, there you have it, my friends. I hope you found a few new tips, and that this sparks a regeneration of safety for you and your family. You are worth it, and so are your little ones!
If you can take a minute to share this with loved ones, it may very well save a defenseless child someday soon. Thank you ❤
Do you have a great tip for keeping your children safe that’s not on the list?
Leave a comment below, and tell us about it!
Thanks for visiting Life of Little’s!
Sources: Federal Bureau of Investigation; State of Washington’s Office of the Attorney General; Vanished Children’s alliance, National Crime Information Center, National Center for missing and exploited children (NCMEC) Police Deputy Metro Richmond Virginia
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