In my previous article I listed several tips to help adult women and teen girls prevent someone from kidnapping them. In this article I will focus on those who cannot fight back: babies and small children. It is horrible to think about, but these children who cannot fight back are prime targets for pedophiles and/or people who practice human trafficking. So how can you protect them?
1. Keep them in sight.
Never let your baby or small child out of your peripheral vision. Always have them within reach when you are in a public place. It only takes seconds, not minutes, to kidnap a child — especially when a parent is distracted. If you are shopping with your baby, either keep the baby strapped in a baby carrier INSIDE the shopping cart (not resting on top where some keep their purse), or keep the baby strapped in a harness close to your body. Here is an example of such a baby carrier: the “Ergobaby Four Position 360 Baby Carrier” that snugly keeps your child comfortably next to you.
Also, do not leave your baby unattended in a stroller. NEVER leave a baby unattended in a vehicle! NEVER let a stranger hold your baby. (I know this sounds ridiculous, but amazingly some people do this stuff without thinking.) Remember, all it takes is a second for someone to snatch the baby. Just don’t leave your baby unattended.
2. Be aware.
Situational awareness is key to prevent abductions. But be especially aware in places where children like to congregate and play. If lots of kids go to the park to play on the jungle gym, you can be sure that pedophiles and kidnappers scope out those places too. Stay alert.
3. Keep pictures.
Always keep updated photos of your baby or small child handy. If your child is missing (God forbid), you can quickly get these photos into the hands of the police.
4. Be aware of their clothes.
Remember what your child is wearing today. Especially the shoes. Kidnappers can quickly change the clothes and color of the hair, but they may forget to change the shoes.
5. No names.
Do not put your child’s name on their clothing (or if they are in kindergarten or elementary school, don’t put their name on their lunch box). Pedophiles and kidnappers can learn their name and call them. Children will go to people who call out their name. Also, remove those “stick figures” with the names of your children on the back of your car. Why are you telling the whole world how many children you have and what their names are?
You may wish to your children fingerprinted; also keep dental records. Again, God forbid that your child should ever go missing, but having these records instantly available will go a long way in helping the police.
7. Don’t advertise.
Do not mark your home with lawn signs (like a stork) announcing to the world that you have a new baby in the home. All kinds of people (some of them rather unsavory) drive past your home. Why tell them about a new baby?
8. Watch for signs.
In my state, the local sheriff mails out notices when a sexual offender moves into a neighborhood. Pay close attention to this and any other threats like this.
9. Teach life skills.
If your children a little older (I’m thinking kindergarten through the fourth grade), they can be taught some very good skills to prevent their abduction. For example, make sure your children know their full name, phone number, and address. Make sure they know how to call 9-1-1 and how to ask for help. They should know how to talk to a police dispatcher and tell them who they are, where they are, and what the need is. Here are some real 9-1-1 calls from children as young as three years old:
When my children were little my wife and I drilled our kids in doing this. We made it a game, we made it fun, but we told them that some day it may be very serious and they need to know how to call for help. Fortunately, we never had to use this training. Here is a fascinating video about seven children who used their wits and miraculously escaped their abductors:
10. Don’t be fooled.
Remind your children that adults do NOT need your help to find a puppy, to go look for something, or to see something special in their car or in their house. (These are some of the oldest tricks by abductors in luring children.) The best advice to your child: when they see a stranger coming towards them — RUN! Run to safety.
11. Be sticky.
Tell your kids that if someone is grabbing them and trying to drag them away, they must be “sticky” and stick to whatever they can grab: a fence post, a lamp post, a car door handle, another person! Whatever they can grab, hang on tight! Stick to it! And yell and make as much noise as possible.
12. Try to get out.
If your kids are forced into a car, tell them to immediately try to get out. If it is a four-door car, children can quickly jump over to the back seat and try to get out there. Teach them where the latch is in the trunk so they can get out if they are ever locked there.
In my church when we have Vacation Bible School, I lead the kids in what we call “Grace Martial Arts VBS” (definitely the most unusual VBS in Ohio). I teach kids age 8 through 12 in a non-violent, anti-bullying martial arts program (and Bible studies). (Although I never teach kids lethal strikes, they are taught some very effective strikes that would effect a release if someone grabbed them.) As part of their training we go through many “stranger danger” drills where we act out various abduction scenarios (the parents are always present to observe and reinforce the skills at home). If you can arrange some kind of program at your church or synagogue or community center, that might help a lot in preventing child abductions.
Here is Linda Richardson, the “Celebrity Baby Nurse,” giving some valuable tips to prevent anything horrible like this from happening to your family:
Please take these notes to heart, and share them with your friends.