After several reports of kidnappings around the country - and a few cases of men luring children to their cars in mid-Michigan - experts say there are a few warning signs people should notice that could stop a kidnapper before it's too late.
Michigan State University professor and psychologist, Gary Stollak, said people who are chronically or easily mad and those who succumb to road rage when they are driving could become dangerous.
Eaton Rapids police chief, Carl Watkins, said someone who has a low self-esteem might feel the need to kidnap a child in order to have power and control over someone.
Stollack said it is important for parents to watch out for warning signs in their children as well. He said kids who injure animals or get into unprovoked fights with their siblings or adults could become dangerous when they grow older. Those children, he said, should have therapy.
Eaton Rapids is currently looking out for a man who may have lured a child to his car on July 31.
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- Parents MUST know the families of their children's friends.
- Children should use the buddy system -- NEVER walk or ride bikes alone, at night or even during the day. When walking, always walk toward traffic so that an abductor cannot drive up behind and pull the child into a vehicle.
- NEVER hitchhike or take rides from friends unless parents have given permission.
- Always tell a family member or another adult in charge where you will be at all times and when you will be home; this includes a friend’s house close by.
- It's not enough to watch your kids playing outside while sitting inside the house. You need to be close enough to intervene.
- Don't put your child's name on a lunch box or where anyone can see it. Abductors will see the name and then call the child by name to make the initial contact they need to abduct the child.
- Explain to your child that even if a stranger knows your name, he or she still could be an abductor.
- Teach your child that a stranger is anyone they don't know, not just someone that 'looks scary.'
- Bus stops are common areas for abductors to use. They tell children that the bus broke down and they are there to pick up them up, or when it is raining or snowing, abductors may offer children rides to get them out of the elements.
- Teach your child at a young age how and when to use 9-1-1. Disconnect the phone and pretend you are the dispatcher and that the child is calling. Make sure your child knows his or her full name and yours, the complete address to your house, and your phone number.
Facts About Kidnapping
- The Justice Department study, Kidnapping of Juveniles, found family members committed the greatest number of child kidnappings -- 49 percent.
- Acquaintances were responsible for 27 percent of the abduction cases.
- The remaining 24 percent of abductors were strangers.
- Acquaintance kidnapping, often by boyfriends or ex-boyfriends of the child's mother, usually involves girls ages 12 to 17.
- Twenty-four percent of acquaintance kidnappings led to victim injury compared with 16 percent of stranger abductions and four percent of family kidnappings.
- Eighty-four percent of kidnappers were males and 30 percent were juveniles.
- Robbery and assault were the crimes most commonly associated with stranger kidnappings, in which 95 percent of kidnappers were males.
- In cases involving family members, 80 percent of the kidnappers were males and victims were injured in only four percent of the abductions.
Source: http://www.lostchild.net/abductions-prevention.htm (The Lost Child Web site)