These days, it is quite common to see warnings of child kidnappers in our Facebook feeds. It either includes photos of perpetrators, the vehicles they use, or God forbid, even morbid photos of what they do to the kidnapped kids. Although such warnings make us parents more aware and alert, I think that aside from looking out for the kidnappers or their vehicles, making our own children alert and teaching them what to do in the case of an attempted kidnapping is also important.
To start off, here are a few basic safety rules we should instill in our kids:
- Don’t go with another adult who’s not your parent, guardian, or person who’s in charge of you for that day.
- If a stranger asks you for any kind of help — treat it as a warning sign. Adults do not need help from a child.
- Never get into any vehicle with a stranger.
- Know what is ok or not ok for you. Be confident and take action whenever you feel that someone is trying to take advantage of you.
For us parents, the important thing is to communicate openly with our kids. Be open with them and tell them what is going on in their life, and even in our society in general. As parents, we tend to try to protect them from the “big, bad” world, but sometimes, awareness of this not-so-good side of the world is what it takes for them to be on their guard — which, let’s admit is not a bad thing. At the same time, let your kids know that different situations can have different rules, and as such, they don’t always have to be polite and can always say no if the situation calls for it. Politeness can make it easy for potential kidnappers to get your kid to do what he wants.
Next, teach your child techniques to avoid being kidnapped.
Granted, a potential kidnapping situation can be scary as hell for us adults, more so for kids. But it should be noted that in any kidnapping situation, there can be windows of opportunity for the victim to try and save his life. And since potential kidnappers can be intimidating and downright scary, it is also important to equip your child with self-esteem and confidence to try out and do these techniques. Of course, practicing them at your home could help as well.
- Velcro technique — Be like a velcro and stick into anything, or basically grab something and DO NOT let go. Grab a tree, a bike, a light post, or even grab another adult. The point is, grabbing anything can call attention to what’s happening and at the same time, it makes it harder to disengage and carry off a child during an attempted kidnapping.
- Yell as loud as you can “Stop stranger!” — Teach your child that any stranger who is attempting to carry them off could be dangerous and they should try to call attention as much as they can by yelling. Granted, some kids also do yell even when they are with their parents, which is why they need to specifically say “stranger.”
- Windmill or swimming technique — Teach your child to rotate his arms in a big circle if a stranger is trying to carry them off. Doing so will prevent the kidnapper from getting a good grip on your child.
- Make a lot of noise — Aside from yelling, you can also equip your child with a whistle, which they can blow on in situations wherein they might be in danger. Aside from the whistle or yelling, tell them to make as much racket as they can to call attention from others who might be able to help. A commotion can frighten potential kidnappers as it calls attention on them.
And finally, here are a few safety reminders for us parents:
- Always know where your child is, and the persons they know.
- Be wary of changes in your child’s behavior.
- Do not leave your child alone in a public place, car, or stroller.
- Do not ask your stranger to hold your baby, even for a few minutes.
- Do not label their bags, lunch boxes, or clothing.
- Do not let your children go out alone. Always use the buddy system.
- Teach and let your child memorize your mobile phone number and even a close family member’s. Instruct him on how to contact either one of you.
- Always be wary of strangers or possible threats in any situation.
- Take a lot of photos of your child and keep them current.
- Teach older kids to always use their critical thinking and intuition.
As parents, we always hope and pray for the best and that nothing bad happens to our child. But in this big, bad world we live in, aside from equipping them with prayers, it is also best to empower them in scary situations such as kidnapping.
Sources:Dr. Gail Gross Safety Tips
*Originally published in momcenter.com.ph