The Michigan State Police say kidnappings and abductions are very rare occurrences. They say there are certain things parents and children need to look out for.
Authorities say it only takes a matter of minutes to snatch a child and that's why parents should always be mindful of where their kids are playing.
Police say children should always use the buddy system, never take shortcuts, tell parents where they are playing, and make up a special code word for pick-up purposes.
Authorities say parents should also be aware of certain surroundings like playgrounds, daycare and shopping centers. These are places police call target environments for perpetrators.
Police say to always remember if anyone ever makes a child feel uncomfortable, to run away as quickly as possible and ask for help.
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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)