According to the United States Justice Department, an estimated 800,000 children are reported missing each year? Many are runaways or victims of child custody disputes between parents. George Molho, author of Scarred: a Memoir was kidnapped by his father and held captive for a year before he could escape and be reunited with his mother. He turned his experiences into a way to help others avoid what he went through.
George says if a child is old enough to be left at home alone or to play in the neighborhood park then he or she is old enough to be taught how to avoid being kidnapped and how to defend against such happening. Here are his tips:
- Teach your child how to "fib" on the phone or if approached by a stranger AND put them to the test by having a friend or co-worker call (someone they don't know) and act as the stranger. "Daddy/Mommy can't come to the phone right now, they're in the shower, but I can have him/her call you back in a few minutes."
- Trust your child's instincts. If they feel someone is strange or looking at them peculiarly, trust them no matter who it is. If they feel something is wrong where you are at and they can't verbalize it then just trust their instincts.
- Teach your child how to use 911 and that it is their friend and ally. Call if ANYTHING makes them uncomfortable or feel insecure and afraid.
- Make sure your child knows your cell phone and home phone. Teach them how to make collect calls at a pay phone.
- Make approved lists of people who will deliver any news to them. For example, if mom or dad are in trouble or hurt, only these people will know and will tell the child - even if Uncle Bob tries to tell them Mom is in the hospital and he/she needs to go with him, but he's not on the approved list, instruct your child NOT to go. This is a common trap kidnappers use
- Teach them to run if someone threatens them by saying if the child doesn't go with them that mom, dad, brother or sister will be harmed or killed because they have them. Make sure you have drilled it into the children that you will not be ever taken and are therefore always safe.
- Promise your child that if anyone offers them candy, movies, toys etc., that not only should they not be talking to the stranger but that when they get home you'll give them DOUBLE of whatever they were teased with. Kidnappers continue to employ such tactics because they work. Kids love surprises, toys, candy, games etc.
- Teach your child and give them permission to defend themselves if someone grabs them. If stranger tries to get them in a car by asking for any kind of help run to the nearest group of adults or officer. If not there run to the nearest home and start pounding on the door and ringing the bell. If no one there run to the next and while running yell their hearts out. Kidnappers are cowards they shrivel at so much noise and attention
- If they have been thrown into a car, teach and train them to immediately jump to the back seat. Start throwing things out of the vehicles windows if there is anything back there, never stop yelling, never stop moving, and as soon as vehicle stops - run!
- Communicate, communicate, communicate. Don't be afraid to talk to your child about it because you think it's going to scare them. Better a little fear and being prepared then the unthinkable happen.
- Teach your child and train them to never give up, never stop thinking and never stop fighting to get away. Kidnappers want easy targets without drawing attention.
For more information, visit George's website.