Calls to bring back ‘Stranger danger’ advice for children after 10% rise in child abduction

January 26 , 2015


Call for as much focus on risk of strangers in street as for online grooming after over 500 abductions or attempted snatches across UK in last year.

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A charity has called for a return of high-profile “stranger danger” campaigns after the number of child snatches and attempted abductions across the country rose by 11 per cent in a year.

Charity Parents and Children Together wants as much focus of the dangers of strangers as online grooming by parents and schools.

In the 1970s and 1980s TV ads like the Charlie Says campaign that warned of the dangers of going off with strangers through a cartoon boy and cat, hammered home the message.

But new research by the charity, which fears the focus has shifted to much to warnings over online grooming, found in England and Wales 2013/14 saw the first rise in numbers of abductions and attempts for ten years up from 513 in 2012/13 to 569.


More than 350 of those in 2013/14 were by strangers or people who were not the parent.

The major cities experienced the highest number of incidents with police in London recording 184 snatches, kidnappings or attempts, in the West Midlands there were 72, and Greater Manchester Police dealt with 66 incidents over the 12 months.

The research has found that about 70% of abductions or attempted snatches involve strangers or people who are not the parents of the child.

Geoff Newiss, director of research at PACT, said that while parents should not panic, and that such events remained relatively rare, it was crucial families warned children of the dangers.

He suggested too great an emphasis on the dangers of online grooming, could lead to some mums and dads failing to tackle the issue of real-life strangers with their children.

He said: “One surprise is that we still have many more stranger-attempted abductions than parental ones that people realise. “A lot of the focus now is online grooming and I think that has taken attention away from what is seen as an old fashioned problem.”

A report by the charity said: “New safety materials to help teachers and parents talk to children about stranger child abduction should be developed, tested and made widely available.”

The figures come as police in London and Stockport are investigating spates of abduction attempts and warning families and schools in their area.

A man, 24, was arrested, but later released on bail following three reports of attempted abductions of children in Lambeth, where officers have visited schools.

On January 15, a ten-year-old girl was approached by a man asking her to go with him. Five days later an 11-year-old girl was approached by two men in a white car. A man approached a 16-year-old girl the next day on the same road, Kennington Lane.

Chief Inspector Nick Collins said: “Officers from Lambeth are currently investigating the incidents and are still trying to determine whether the same man or men were involved in all three.

“Whilst we do not wish to cause alarm I would ask the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to us. I understand that the community will be concerned and I want to reassure parents and carers that we are treating this extremely seriously.”

Meanwhile, Stockport police probed the sixth attempted abduction or suspicious approach to a child in the space of 10 days.

In the most recent incident, two sisters were approached at a bust stop in Adswood on Thursday morning by a couple who tried to persuade them to get into a car.

Further incidents were reported in Cheadle and Cheadle Hulme.

Police do not believe all the reported incidents are related, but have advised families and schools to report anything suspicious.

Police released an E-fit of a man wanted in connection with the attempted abduction of a 10-year-old schoolboy in Cheadle on January 13.

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Parental Kidnapping – Now a Global Issue

May 27, 2013

Source: Boston Herald

On International Missing Children’s Day, marked May 25th, we remembered the thousands of missing children and the parents who grieve and plead for help. Since 2008, more than 7,000 American children have been abducted to a foreign country — not by a stranger, but by their other parent.


Such children are at risk of serious emotional and psychological problems and may experience anxiety, eating problems, nightmares, mood swings, sleep disturbances, aggressive behavior, resentment, guilt and fearfulness.

Members of Congress have seen the lopsided battles our constituents face to bring their children home from a foreign jurisdiction. Michael Elias, a combat-injured Iraqi veteran from New Jersey, has not held his children since 2008, when his ex-wife used her Japanese consulate connections to abduct Jade and Michael Jr. in violation of New Jersey court orders. Japan has refused to return the children or prosecute the abductor.

Elias told Congress, “All my hopes and dreams for their future now lie in the hands of others. … I am begging our government to help not only my family, but hundreds of other heartbroken families as well, to demand the return of our American children who are being held in Japan.”

Colin Bower’s children, Noor and Ramsay, were abducted from their home in Boston to Egypt nearly four years ago by their mother — who had lost custody because of her drug use and psychological problems. The Egyptian government facilitated the abduction by issuing fraudulent Egyptian passports, providing passage on the government-owned airline, and by shielding the mother, who comes from a well-connected family, from any accountability or responsibility.


At a recent hearing Bower noted the billions of dollars in U.S. assistance to Egypt and observed, “Regardless of whatever moral, fiscal, or political balance you use, providing uninterrupted aid to a partner that acts this way is quite simply wrong. If this is American foreign policy, it’s flawed and it isn’t working. We aren’t getting what we pay for.”

Tragically, the Obama administration has limited itself to diplomatic requests for the return of the children. In the words of Bernard Aronson, former assistant secretary of state of inter-American affairs, “a diplomatic request for which there is no real consequence for refusal is simply a sophisticated form of begging.”

It is time for a new approach. That is why we have introduced H.R. 1951, the Sean and David Goldman Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act of 2013, which will give the president powerful tools to motivate a country’s quick response for the return of abducted children.

If a country has 10 or more cases not being resolved in a timely manner, or the judiciary, or law enforcement, or other responsible entity is persistently failing to fulfill their obligations, the president can take action to aggressively advocate for our children’s return — such as denying certain assistance, canceling cultural exchanges, opposing international loans, or extraditing the abductor.

This bill creates the expectation of action — not just words — to bring every American child home. In the words of then-Senator and now Secretary of State John Kerry at the 2012 passage of a Senate resolution calling for the return of the Bower children, we must “remain focused like a laser beam until this father is reunited with his two boys,” and every other abducted American child comes home. We can, and must, do more than talk.

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R) represents New Jersey’s 4th District.


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Child Abduction: Teach your child about stranger safety

August 20, 2012

Source: The Asian Parent

It pays to be cautious of who your child engages with in public places, but are we emphasising the wrong things when we teach our children about stranger-danger?

We’ve seen and heard the stories in the news, on crime dramas and even from friends. Child abductions, paedophilia, even maternal psychological conditions that lead to women believing other people’s children to be their own. As parents, we treat any and every of such stories dead seriously, but are we scaring ourselves — and our children — into a corner?

Protecting our children will always be the foremost priority. But existing perceptions of “stranger-danger” builds itself around a stereotyped shady-looking person whose sole purpose in life is to take away your child and do bad things to him or her.

Reality check: I’m not that person. And neither is more than 99.9998% of the Singapore population (or just about anywhere else), the last time I checked anywhere outside my house.

In fact, teaching your child about stranger-danger based on popular concepts may end up harming your child’s social development – and may even put your child in more danger. We explain and bust 3 major myths of stranger-danger so you can be the judge.

shutterstock 16842502 Teach your child about stranger safetyMyth 1: Don’t talk to strangers

Strangers are everywhere. They can be the neighbours that never say hi, casual shoppers in malls, hawkers selling you chicken rice, and even fill up an entire classroom on your child’s first day at school. Teaching your child not to talk to strangers will instill a fear of socialising within your child, when in reality, your child will need to learn to deal with strangers for the rest of his or her life.

Myth 2: Don’t go anywhere on your own

Part of a child’s learning and development depends on the ability to explore the world around him or her, with or without parental supervision. At some point your child will be old enough to take care of him- or herself, but before then, cautioning your child not to venture out on his or her own will only delay the process, and is also a major cause of parent-child attachment issues.

Myth 3: Stranger-danger is everywhere

Our media will play up missing children reports, not only for the sake of finding these children, but also because the drama draws more eyeballs. Similarly, local authorities will always caution for us to err on the side of safety, simply because it is the foolproof way of cutting down such incidents. Based on police statistics, though 3000 missing persons reports are filed annually, only 0.0002% of Singapore’s resident population remain missing every year, most of whom are adults and/or runaways, and not kidnap victims.

In fact, your child will much more likely be harmed or abducted by a known relative or family acquaintance than a stranger. But given that kidnapping is a crime punishable by death in Singapore, chances of your child being abducted is extremely slim given the risk the would-be abductor has to place on his life for the act.

We share some sensible insights by Lenore Skenazy, host of the radical parenting show “World’s Worst Mom”, who also helps reconnect worried parents with reality in her book, Free-Range Kids.

Teach your child to interact with strangers

Outside of your own family and social circle, the world is mostly made up of strangers, and in reality, we’re really all good people who just think your child is adorable.

In her book, Lenore categorically states that “(the) ‘Don’t trust anyone!’ lesson could conceivably end up making (a child) less safe”. In the event that a child does encounter a predator, he or she won’t be equipped with the social understanding that calling for help from other strangers and attracting attention is a viable option.

“The safest kids are the confident kids”

So says Ernie Allen, head of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. His organisation provides a solution based on studying children successfully escaping abduction attempts — the kids did it by kicking and screaming, a reaction that children with reservations about themselves would probably not think of doing. Allen also mentions that this is the “same techniques you’d use to resist peer pressure over drugs or bullies or gangs.”

You are the precedent

Remember your own childhood and compare it to your own child’s time. “Forty years ago,” Lenore says, “the majority of U.S. children walked or biked to school. Today, about 10 percent do. Meantime, 70 percent of today’s moms say they played outside as kids. But only 31 percent of their kids do.”

Lenore’s Free-Range Kids movement seeks to ensure parents around the world that the world is a much safer place than the media — or we — make it out to be. But more importantly, it’s also about giving our children the childhood they deserve, full of play and none of the worry, just as we had when we were kids.

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