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Child Safety / Abduction

Almost all the rules and tips about increasing children's personal safety have to do with your two big fears for children: sexual molestation and physical harm.
Each year an estimated 100,000 U.S. children suffer some form of sexual abuse. The average age of the child victim is 10 years old.

Teaching stranger rules is smart, but not enough. In the majority of cases, the child sexual molester is known to the child and the child's family. That's why only a minority of abuse cases is reported to the police. The abuser is often a parent, relative, coach, baby-sitter or close family friend. Children may give in to adult's sexual advances because they fear losing their love, or fear their punishment. Therefore, they are especially vulnerable to sexual abuse by someone they know, like people who care for them regularly. Children are trusting and defenseless. Make sure you check carefully the references of baby-sitters, day-care centers, and recreation leaders.

A child may not recognize sexual abuse when it happens, or even know it's wrong, especially if the abuser is someone the child knows. Children must learn what appropriate touching is. Discuss it with your child. Many children instinctively know what proper distance should be kept between them and other persons. Sometimes a child may be uncertain about the intentions of another person. In this situation, children should know it's O.K. to respond in a way that makes them feel safe and more comfortable. Children usually know that genuine and gentle affection is different from someone who tries to touch their genitals or fondle them in any way that makes them feel unsafe. They should pull away immediately if someone suggests such actions, even if they're offered a present as a bribe.

Children often make up stories, but they rarely lie about being victims of sexual assault. If a child tells you about being touched or assaulted, take it seriously. Your response is very important and will influence how the child will react and recover from the abuse.
Stay calm. In a reassuring tone, find out as much as you can about the incident. Explain to your child that you are concerned about what happened. Don't be angry. Many children feel guilty, as if they had provoked the assault. Children need to be reassured that they are not to blame, and that they are right to tell you what happened.
A child may need to be taken immediately to a doctor or an emergency room. Sometimes the child may need to be treated for VD and checked for pregnancy.
Law enforcement, special hot-lines or a child welfare agency should be contacted right away.
Sometimes, a child may be too frightened or confused to talk directly about the abuse. Be alert for an change in behavior that might hint that the child has suffered a disturbing experience.

* Is the child suddenly more withdrawn than usual, refusing to go to school or afraid to be alone?

* Is the child having trouble sleeping, waking up with nightmares, or wetting the bed?

* Is the child complaining of irritation of the genital areas?

* Are there signs of increased anxiety or immature behavior?

* Does the child show a marked change in behavior toward a relative, neighbor or baby-sitter?

* Has another child in the family been abused.

Including sexual abuse, an estimated one million child abuse incidents are reported every year. Other forms of child abuse include physical violence, emotional cruelty and deprivation and physical neglect.

Child abusers are persons usually known to the child. This means most cases are not reported to authorities and children continue to suffer because abusers are repeat offenders.

Child abuse is dangerous and against the law. Many abused children will grow up and victimize their families, and others, later in life. It is your duty as a citizen to report suspected cases of child abuse by contacting a special hot-line, the police, or child welfare agency immediately. The children need help and treatment as soon as possible.

One in five girls and one in ten boys have been sexually abused before the age of eighteen.

Who Are These Abusers?
90% of the victims of child sexual abuse know their abusers--they are the fathers, mothers, siblings, close relatives, friends, teachers, coaches or other caretakers of children. They are rarely the monsters we imagine lurking in the corners of our playgrounds and parks. Although there is no one profile for a molester, some common similarities may include having good accessibility to children. This usually means that they work with children or donate their time to children. Most molesters prefer pre-pubescent children (ages 10 - 14). They prey on a child's ignorance and curiosity towards sexuality. Most appear to be heterosexual males, He will not look like a monster and will be able to present himself as a warm and friendly person.

Strangers and Acquaintances
Most parents focus on telling their children not to talk to strangers. This well-intentioned advice is often not understood by the child. After all, any stranger that plays and talks with a child for a brief while will most likely be consider someone that the child knows. This process may be accelerated if the stranger knows the child's name. Also remember, your child is much more likely to be victimized by someone close to them - commonly someone who the parents know and trust.

Prevention Tips for Abduction
Most children that are abducted occur by someone that they know for a short period of time, they are abused and then released. There are only a few hundred stranger abductions every year in the United States and usually fewer than 100 every year in Canada. Abduction by a family member in custody battles accounts for over 90% of all child abduction cases

* Never assume your child will not be abducted - always act as though it could happen.

* Establish solid communication with your child. Develop open dialogue so he/she can confide in you in case of trouble.

* Never leave young children unattended (at home, in a parked car, shopping cart or in a public restroom).

* Make certain your child knows his/her full name, your name, address and telephone number, including area code. Teach him/her to use the telephone. Help may be available by dialing 911 or "O"

* Have pictures taken yearly. For preschoolers, pictures should be updated quarterly.

* Keep records of fingerprints, footprints, dental and doctor information, birthmarks and birth certificates. You should keep copies of x-rays as hospitals do not keep such records for more than a few years.

* Tell baby-sitters or friends caring for the child not to let your child go with anyone but you.

* Teach your child to avoid people they don't know.

* Explain to your child that a stranger is someone they do not know, nor do you.

* Teach your child that adults usually do not ask children for help or directions. If someone should stop in a car asking directions, tell your child not to go to the car.

* Have your child practice the buddy system until old enough that this system is not necessary.

* Caution your child not to play in deserted places. There is safety in numbers.

* Teach your child the facts of abduction early. If handled simply as another fact of life - another coping skill - children need not be inordinately frightened by the idea of abduction.

* Establish strict procedures regarding who will pick up your child from school and be meticulously consistent.

* Have your school establish a "School Call Back Program" and visitor check-in policies.

* Teach your child never to go anywhere with anyone who doesn't know a family "Code" word.

* Make sure that your child does not have his/her name on a visible place such as clothing or belongings. It makes it harder for strangers to be on a first name basis with your child.

* Know as much as possible about your ex-spouse and his/her friends and relatives. Pay attention to threats of stealing the child. Watch for attitude changes and/or unstable behavior in your ex-spouse. Be aware of how a life-style change by you or your spouse might affect him/her.

* Explain to your child that if they are home alone not to open the door for anyone except previously designated persons. This includes a salesperson or delivery person.

* Teach your child never to answer the telephone and tell anyone that he/she is home alone. If someone should call, instruct your child to make a prepared statement such as, "Daddy/Mommy cannot come to the phone right now... can I take a message."

* Teach older children to come home at dark.

* Remind older children to phone home.

* Know whom your child's friends are, where they live, and their telephone numbers.

* Beware of any adult that showers your child with an inordinate amount of attention and/or presents. No one should care more about your child than you.

* Be aware that a pedophile is usually an adult whose sexual preference is confined to youngsters. The classic pedophile preys on runaways or children from unhappy homes. He showers the child with affection. By the time sexual activity takes peace, the child is often an uncomplaining partner and it goes unreported. Please show your child appropriate affection.

* Teach your child that if they are being followed not to hide behind bushes, but to go where there are people or to a safe house.

* Understand that "bad" touches can feel "good." Your child needs to know that sexual abuse does not simply mean that they will feel physical pain.

* Report a missing child immediately after checking the immediate environment. Do not wait any length of time. The first 24 hours are crucial for search workers

Teach your child that it is appropriate to "make a scene" if he/she senses danger from an adult. Teach him/her to yell "HELP!", or "I DON'T KNOW YOU!", not just scream.

Common lures

Offering affection - CASE FILE - JOHN K
John K is a 60-year-old male who began sexually molesting Jenny, his niece, when she was ten years old. The abuse began gradually as he would read a story to Jenny after she would return home from school. Jenny enjoyed to attention. Her mother was a recovering alcoholic, so Jenny's uncle was often at the house to offer a lending hand. This became a regular routine. John K would fondle her as her read a story. He would then tell her how much he loved her and give her candy. Over a six-month "grooming period " John K would increase the frequency and intensity of the abuse rewarding Jenny with candies and one-on one affection that she lacked from her mother. As Jenny grew older, John K would ask her if she liked the time that they spent together, Jenny always said "yes". John K told her that if she was to tell anyone about their secret relationship, that John K would have to go away and then no one would be able to read to Jenny anymore. Jenny disclosed the abuse to her schoolteacher when she was 13 years old in a note that she wrote after watching an episode of Oprah that addressed child abuse.

John K was what is known as a situational molester. He was happily married for over 20 years and had children that he raised successfully with any incidents of abuse. His wife left him 3 years ago and this caused a severally negative self-image to develop. He became more depressed after two failed relationships with women. Jenny was his first and only victim.

Asking for help - CASE FILE - William J
William was arrested for sexually molesting an 11-year-old girl at knifepoint. He was watching a girl's house for a couple of days and learned that the she was usually home alone for a two hour period in the afternoon. One day he rang her doorbell and asked if could use the phone to call for an ambulance since there was a terrible accident that just happened down the road. Once inside he threw the child to the ground and raped her. Once he began his assault he lost track of the time and actually walked down the driveway while the girl's parents were returning home. Sensing something was not right, the father dropped of the mother to check on the girl and followed William. William began to run of road down a hill and was soon apprehended by a group of construction workers and held for the police. William showed no remorse for his actions and was very matter of fact about what he had done to the girl. Although this was William's second offence at the age of 25 he has victimized well over 10 girls.
Other forms of this Lure:
Can you help me find my lost dog (props like a dog leash and a photo of a dog may be part of the lure)
Can you help me put these bags in my car (money might be offered)
Can you mail this letter for me (person may be on crutches or have arm in a sling)

Friendly Acquaintance- CASE FILE - KEVIN B
Kevin B was a primary molester. This means that he was primarily attracted to young female children and that he has little interest in an adult intimate relationship. In his teen years he would cut out underwear pictures of the girls and collect them in a shoebox under his bed. Eventually Kevin began hanging around toy stores where he would "accidentally" brush up against young girls in the isles. He admitted to stealing panties of a young girl who live only a few doors down by pulling them of his neighbors clothesline. When Kevin was in his late teens, he began working as a youth coordinator for his local church. Kevin also babysat for the members of his congregation on a regular basis. As I interviewed Kevin, it was clear to me that he was an extremely smart and swift individual. He told me that while he would fondle young girls that were entrusted in his care. He was always careful to have some sort of logical explanation or excuse for the situation He would molest his younger victims (3 - 5) as he bathed them so that way if the child would disclose the abuse - he would have a reasonable explanation touching their private parts. I interviewed Kevin in a maximum-security facility in Northern New England after he attempted to abduct a young girl that he did not know. He claimed to have been fantasizing about this over many months. Sometime he would follow a young girls close enough so that she would feel afraid, he enjoyed the power that he felt over her. Soon Kevin wanted more. He found his perfect target, a 10-year girl that walked home from school every day and lived on a quiet street. He picked a day that was rainy since not many people would be on the streets. On that day Kevin was eager on carrying out something that he had been fantasizing about for months. He pulled up to the school and waiting for the girl, but there were no signs of her as the kids filled the streets. Kevin became a little upset, his impulse control was affected. It turned out that his ideal target for the day was actually let out early. Kevin quickly raced over across town were he knew the kids would be dismissed 15 minutes later than the one he was at. He circled the school campus waiting for the kids to fill the streets. He became concerning when parents started to notice his car circling the area. Then he spotted the perfect target, Three 5th grade blond girls walking away from the school he followed them until the group broke up. Then he quickly pulled up about 50 feet in front of the girl. He opened his passenger side door and exited his vehicle. he pretended to be fixing the front tire. When the girl was at the door opening, Kevin stood up and approached her. She said hello to him. This confused Kevin as he seen the victim as a passive object in his fantasy. The girl walked by. Kevin had a feeling that he must try again. He pulled up again 50 feet in front of the girl, again he opened the passenger side door and pretended to be fixing the front right tire. As the girl approached Kevin and the car she appeared a little scared and increased her pace. Just at the moment that Kevin was about to grab the girl, he saw a car drive by. Frustrated Kevin advance this vehicle once again 50 feet in front of the girls and repeated the same situation, this time as the girl approached her he grabbed her by the hair and shoved her face down in the rear of the car, as he attempted to get in his vehicle, neighbors and the girl's mother were alerted by her screams. Kevin was wrestled to the ground by two landscapers that were working in a neighbor's yard. Although Kevin was arrested and convicted of attempted kidnapping and assault. This was his first conviction, but not his first victim. Kevin had molested over 60 children using a wide and diverse MO. Kevin also experimented with animal victims before graduating to humans. It is likely that Kevin would have murdered the girl after the molestation

Authority / Emergency - CASE FILE - JAMES L
James had a fake police badge and would accuse young girls of shoplifting. He would always single out children that were alone and order them to come with him

This is a dangerous one because so many children have blind faith in authority figures in their life - teachers, coaches anyone in a uniform. Tell your child that they should not go anywhere with anyone that they do not know well. They should tell another adult who is nearby that they are scared and ask them for help. Brining in a third persona will often scare of an aggressor

Name recognition
Is your name Cindy, I am not a stranger I know your name. Your mom sent me to pick you up because she had to work late.

It is important to remember that the lures can be coupled together. When this happens it becomes increasingly more difficult for a child to process. For instance, Hi Jimmy, my name is officer Lewis and your mommy sent me to get you