When we think about a child being abducted, we can’t help but feel the most horrible primal fear. The thought that there are people trolling around our communities and schools’ looking for potential victims is enough to make our blood run cold. So what can we do to protect our children from this worst of criminals?
The good news is that children are immediately safer when parents and caregivers take the time to learn about the dangers and how to avoid them. We know that child abductions are rare but the risk still exists, therefore, we need to eliminate or, at best, minimize the opportunities for our children to become victims. The predatory abductor will classically use casual conversation, innocent questions and a variety of requests to lure a child into a position where abduction can be achieved.
The following are just a few of the common lures:
“I need your help…” to find my puppy, to fix my car, to find an address. Whatever the excuse, your child should understand that an unknown adult does not need to ask them for help. An unknown adult who asks a child for help may be dangerous and should be treated as such. Tell your children that if an adult genuinely required help, they would usually approach another adult. I must again reiterate that children naturally have a desire to help and are often not suspicious by nature, so this method has its limitations. Of course, adults ask children for help all the time. The difference here is an unfamiliar adult approaching a child out of the blue and asking them for help. Additionally, they should be taught to never approach a person who is in a car and to ensure they always keep a safe distance if approached by an unfamiliar person. My best advice for parents of younger children is to make every effort to avoid them being in a position where an abductor could approach them.
“Hello, Sarah.” Once a molester knows your child’s name, it can be used to gain their confidence and can throw them off guard. This lure is often used in conjunction with other lures, e.g., “Hi Sarah, your mum asked me to pick you up from school. She’s been in a car accident and is in the hospital and you need to come with me now!” The abductor can learn you child’s name through many means such as overhearing another person use her name or seeing her name on clothing or schoolbooks, etc. If it is necessary to put your child’s name on clothing or personal items, always ensure that it is not easily visible.
“Your dog got hit by a car just down the road, come with me!” or “Your mum has been hurt and she asked me to come get you, she is calling for you.” A potential abductor may use this ploy to convince a child that there is an emergency and he will take them to where the parent/crisis is, e.g., the hospital. This lure is often effective in confusing and alarming the child into making a quick decision. One of the best ways to avoid this lure is to have a FAMILY PLAN which addresses such an emergency. For example, you could tell your child that if mum or dad is unable to pick you up from school due to A, B or C, then either Aunty Rosy or Grandad will be there to pick you up – NO ONE ELSE! Be absolutely consistent. For this to be truly effective, your children must have trust in you and your reliability. If you do not show up as scheduled, they will know there is a very good reason and will then expect the Family Plan to come into effect.
“I’ll give you money, lollies, toys, etc.” The potential abductor may use bribery as a means to get the child to go somewhere with them or to keep the molestation a secret. This may also be used to get a child to come close enough to grab. Children should learn very early that they must never take things offered by unfamiliar people unless they have asked you first. People offer children things all the time and teaching your child situational awareness is the key here and even very young children can grasp the concept. This is a perfect opportunity for role playing.
These are just some of the classic lures and it is important to appreciate that teaching children about the classic lures is just one element in their overall safety from sexual abuse and abduction.
Amanda Robinson is the author of ‘The Silent Crisis – Simple Ways to Protect Children from Sexual Abuse’ and an ex police officer who has worked with both the victims and perpetrators of child sexual abuse. In the course of her work, she has developed a deep empathy and compassion for the victims of abuse and an in-depth understanding of the dynamics involved in child sexual abuse including the physical, emotional and spiritual wounds that are inflicted upon its young victims.