Most parents teach their children not to talk to strangers. However, during an abduction attempt, children must feel comfortable talking to strangers because they may need one to save their life. We have to teach children that there are good strangers as well as bad ones, which can be difficult for a young child, since children basically trust everyone.
In emergency situations the rules change. Children must know that during an abduction attempt, the only person who is bad is the abductor. Everyone else is a possible rescuer.
One very sad, but true, fact is that a lot of people will not get involved and help someone in need. How terrible it would be if your child were to free himself from an abductor and go to a stranger for help, only to be refused or not be believed. Therefore, it is important to teach the child not only the right way to approach a stranger, but who the best strangers to approach are.
In Public Places
First, go behind a counter where there is an employee (the parent should show the child how to get behind the counter when they are in a store together). Tell the clerk, "Help, I’ve been kidnapped!" Grab the clerk around the leg and do not let go. Keep repeating "Help, I’ve been kidnapped."
If going behind a counter is not possible, then grab the first person you can and hold tightly while yelling, "Help, I’ve been kidnapped." In a restaurant you can grab the waitress as she comes to the table. At a gas station, you can get into someone else’s car.
Sometimes grabbing someone is not possible or does not work. Grown-ups don’t always believe children. When the child can’t get help, and someone is trying to abduct him, he should run through the store, pull merchandise off the shelves and let it fall to the floor. He should keep doing this until someone restrains him. This will alert the manager, who could call the police or restrain the child.
Explain that vandalism is wrong under normal conditions, but when something wrong is happening to you, vandalism is acceptable and it may be your only chance to summon help. Vandalism alerts the management, other people and the police. These people are a great source to save you from harm. They may be mad when they see you making a mess, but they will be glad when they find out you were doing it because you needed their help.
On the Street
If the child can get free of the abductor "on the street," teach him to run into and against the direction of pedestrians. The crowd acts as a natural obstacle for the abductor giving chase. Also, the child can move more easily and faster than most abductors in this environment. Teach the child to run into a store or any public place and use the attention-getting tactics mentioned above.
If there are no crowds, running in the opposite direction of traffic can be effective, especially at night. The lights from the cars make it harder for the pursuer to see. Also, the cars moving past are a bit disorienting. In the daytime, running against traffic allows the abductor’s and child’s faces to be seen by drivers.
Make sure you and your child understand that breaking free is only half the battle. Finding a safe place and summoning help is the other half. Keep in mind, the harder and longer the abductor has to pursue the child, the angrier he will become. If the child is caught, he most likely will not get a second chance to escape. Therefore, when fleeing, and especially when summoning help, teach your child to do it aggressively. In this situation, shyness and politeness are your child’s worst enemies.
Teach your child that it is okay to use a fire alarm to summon help during an abduction attempt. Show him where a fire alarm is usually located in a building and how to sound it. After pulling the alarm, teach your child to find a hiding place nearby and to stay there until the police or firefighters show up, then go to them.
While fleeing in public, getting on a bus is an excellent escape. Teach your child how to board a bus and summon help. Teach him how to recognize bus stops. If possible, he should find a hiding place near a bus stop, then wait there for a bus and run onto it when it stops.
Car alarms are a great tool for drawing attention. Most car alarms can be set off by pulling on the door handle or bouncing against the car.
Have an identification bracelet made for your child that can be worn on the wrist or around the ankle. The bracelet should be lightweight, similar to medical alert bracelets. On the back of the bracelet engrave the following: Name, telephone number, including the area code and "missing child, reward."
This bracelet can be left or dropped anywhere by the child, such as in a restaurant, grocery store or even thrown out a vehicle. The bracelet technique is best used when the child and abductor get to a house where it appears they are going to stay for a night. In this case, drop the bracelet outside before going in. If it appears that they are not going to stop, the child should drop the bracelet somewhere on the second day of the abduction, preferably in a populated area, like a city street.
In any case, the bracelet drop should only be used after several hours into the abduction. If found and reported, this provides the police with a direction of flight. If someone finds the bracelet and calls you, make sure you get the following information:
· Exactly where it was found including city, state and street address
· The name, phone number and address of the person who found the bracelet
· Time and date of the finding
· Offer the caller a $100 reward to be paid only after the police have received the bracelet
It would be a good idea to put a special mark somewhere on the bracelet so you can verify its authenticity.