One of my worst fears as a young parent was that one of my boys would “get lost.” My oldest son wasn’t scared of anything or anyone. He was so friendly and would talk to anyone. He would wander off on me all the time. My youngest son however, never would have wandered out of my sight. He was more cautious.
When Jacob Wetterling disappeard, I got even more paranoid about them getting lost or abducted or whatever you wanted to call it. Jacob was 11 years old and right in between my boys. He lived in the same state and we heard about it all the time. Sadly, he was never found and we still hear about it on every anniversary. It still makes me so sad that this boy was just gone.
So I was looking around on the Internet just really to see what suggestions there are now. Times change, things change but most of these suggestions are still the same. I was searching this subject and listened to a news-clip from Ed Smart, father of Elizabeth Smart who was abducted but returned home safely 9 months later.
Most of the suggestions were 1: Tell your child to run away in the same direction they came from. Not to run in the direction they were walking. It makes the perpetrator think they are running home and won’t go after them. 2: Scream LOUD. They won’t want to “cause a scene” and will usually back off. 3: Don’t let them get close enough to grab you and 4: never get in a car with a stranger.
Sounds like reasonable advice. I remember back in my day we were told not to have our kids name on clothing. That makes everyone know their name and will call the child by that name and the child will think they know them. I have to say my boys had their names on their jackets. It was just a huge thing to them to have their Minnetonka jackets with their name on them.
What really freaks me out is the number ONE thing that is still used and is the number one thing perpetrators use is the “looking for a lost animal.” STILL, kids fall for that time after time. “Come look in my car, I have a new puppy” still works for kids. One thing I read on a blog was that one mother said when she took her three kids to a big event such as a fair or carnival or a mall, she dressed them all in the same shirts. That way, if someone wandered off and she was a wreck and officers asked her what the child was wearing, she could point to the other child(ren) and say “that.” I thought that was a really smart thing to do. I’ve seen those temporary tattoo’s that you put your cell phone number on their arm or hand but I’m not convinced that’s a good idea just because anyone can see that. Besides, I feel those are more for kids who get lost, not abducted.
So parents, talk to your kids and give them every scenario. Don’t scare them but prepare them. If someone comes and asks you to help find thier lost puppy, tell them to say, “my dad loves dogs and he’ll help us look” and run home to get your dad. I was watching a very old Opera the other day and people watched as their kids ran off with a stranger at a park to help look for a lost dog. The parents couldn’t believe their kids went with.
So, talk, talk and talk to them and make sure they know the more noise they make, the better. Anyone else have any good idea’s???? This really has to be a parents’ worst nightmare.
Growing up we were taught the same things at school. A couple of years a go SA started to take a really strong stand on kids and the bad things that happen to them. They introduced many different things but the best for me was that they started handing out whistles to all the kids.
My friends then 7 year old came home with a bright red one and it had a picture card with it. On the card was different scenarios in pictures and words for the kids to understand when to blow on the whistle.
I thought it clever because even if a perpetrator gets the child in to his/her car blowing the whistle that close to him/her will stun them giving the kid a chance to run.
The whistles are also for the women, we get bright pink ones *grins* If someone attacks us or goes for us we blow our whistles and make a racket, the noise of a whistle travels far further than a scream.
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The being dressed alike thing is good. I used to (15+ yrs ago) sew summer clothing for myself and my older kids that coordinated so that if one strayed/got lost then I could say he has shorts on with this print, or she has shorts and hairband with this print.
These days who doesn’t have a cellphone with a camera? Take a photo of your kiddo with your digital camera or cellphone as you head off for the event/festivities. Have it become a habit like taking the first day of school photos is! Tell your kiddos that you want a before and after photo (and don’t forget to take the after one!) that day.
Though I take this subject seriously, probably too seriously, I am in the mood to offer, in an offhanded way that hopefully no one will take offense to but just attribute it to me being in one of those moods, some advice I gleaned from the movie “Apocalypse Now”:
“Never get out of the boat.”
This is THE biggest fear Jason and I have!! Always has been and probably always will be. I’ve often thought about “setting” him up just to see what he would do. We’ve talked about all of this and he says he’d scream and run but Bailey is the type of boy who is very sensitive to others and is a people pleaser…just like me. We are very protective of him, some say too protective but I don’t believe there is such a thing. I can’t begin to know how parents of kidnapped or murdered children feel. Even the thought of it gives me the most uncomfortable feeling in my stomach. There are only a few friends we would trust to watch him b/c they know and share our fears…long time friends who love him as much as we do. Grandparents of course but still that comes with restrictions…no out town trips yet. It’s nothing personal it’s just that if something were to happen & WE were not there I couldn’t live with myself. Joy is the biggest “what if” person I know and I think I’m the 2nd!! Great post Joy, this reminds me to go over all this stuff again.
I’m often told i’m overly paranoid when it comes to my kids.. This isnt my biggest fear but its 2nd in line. First in line is something bad happening (like a tornado) and me not being around to help (comfort, take care of) my kids. I have this reoccurring dream where a tornado hits and i cant get to them and i hear them screaming for me and I can’t get to them to make sure they are okay and comfort them. That is my biggest fear.. Now them being taken is my 2nd in line.. At the store I don’t let them out of my sight. I make them walk beside me not behind me. I dont let them go to the bathroom alone and i’m always there. The only family they get to go to the store with is my mom or my MIL. I let my SIL take Taylor to walmart with her one day when she was 3. My SIL (the idiot she is) Let her daughter (then 7) take taylor to the toy department and the bathroom by herself. The little girl left taylor in the bathroom ALONE and went to look at toys!!! Taylor was lost roaming around the store at 3 years old by herself.. My SIL didnt even tell me about it for a week. She casually said,” Did taylor tell you we lost her” I was like “HUH” then she explained it to me. I was LIVID! I thought my SIL had more common sense then that! Since then none of my kids go anywhere with her or many others.. I’m overly paranoid but sometimes you have to be!
These are great suggestions Joy, thanks for the reminder. We can never be too careful. Another suggestion is to have a family password that only you and your kids know. That way if a stranger comes up to your kid and tells them that their mother has been in an accident or has sent them to go get them the kids can ask the person what the family password is. If the person can’t tell the correct password the kids know to NOT go with that person and to seek help immediately.
Yes Kweenmama. We have a password!! I think it is a great idea!
I like the dressing them in the same clothes thing. It’s just so simple it’s brilliant!
Many times I take our young children to various events or parks by myself. Women (especially) look at me strangely and rightly so since it is more often the sicko men who take advantage of our children. However, once they watch us interact they mellow.
I am encouraged to see that now a days there seem to be more daddies actively involved with their younger children.
If you really want to see which dad’s are involved with their young children… make a mental note the next time you attend one of those birthday parties with fifteen to twenty kids and their parent(s). Three dads tops will attend.
Those are good tips. Thanks Joy!
I tend not to worry about stranger abduction so much though. Maybe I’m naive or weird, or just plain ignorant…I don’t know. I just think there’s a lot of media hype surrounding stranger danger, and we always hear at the national level no less whenever a child disappears. That to me says that it’s not as frequent an occurrance as the media would have you believe. We hear about these cases because they are news….
I DO worry a lot more about leaving my kids with a co-worker, babysitter, or even a family member. Often it’s those we trust who in turn can cause the most harm.
I swear I’m really not as jaded as I sound 😉
Just remember everyone, statistically speaking children are more likely to be molested by someone they know.
Remain vigilant… not paranoid, just vigilant.
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I get sad at every single Jacob Wetterling anniversary. I was a few years younger than him at the time. For a while there were reports of his “spotting” up near me and everyone got their hopes up. This has to be the worst for the parents than anything. Where there is hope, you know what they say?
I really like the idea of the same clothing and won’t soon forget that. The whole family could get matching T-shirts or something and you can make a game out of it which makes the outing so much fun for kids.
Thanks for all these suggestions.
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