What Every Parent Needs to Know About Child Abductions
How Common are Child Abductions?
Missing children make headlines. We get amber alerts on TV, radio, and even highway signs. Have you ever been at Walmart when an Amber Alert goes off? The whole place goes off.
And the reason we see these messages and they dominate the news is because it is bad and we all want that child found.
The truth is that child abductions are actually rare and that’s why they get so much news media attention.
So that is our first truth that child abductions are actually rare. It turns out that we as parents assume the worst when a kid is not where they are supposed to be. I’m one of those parents, parents is me. I’m not immune from this.
Have you ever lost sight of a kid in a store? Maybe you've gone to the park and your kid went beyond the boundary you agreed upon? It happens and we get this rush of emotion, fear and all of these chemicals are dumped into our brains because we assume the worst because of a news segment we forced ourselves to watch a few years ago.
We assume the worst in this case because the worst is all we’ve been told.
I have some good news for you. About 90% of kids who are missing simply misunderstood where to be and when to be there. They weren’t taken, they’re just not where they need to be. It still remains that they are unaccounted for and you have to find them. But the chances of them being snatched off the street is low.
Also, many teens choose to run away from home. For reasons that involve relationships, drugs, and freedom kids run away. They make a plan to go and then they take off. Here, kids aren’t abducted, they voluntarily leave.
And I’m not splitting hairs with you over terminology at the end of the day - a kid is still missing. But generally, you can see a run-away situation developing. Follow your gut and have an open channel of communication with your kids. Be sure to listen more than you speak and you’ll be doing really well.
Now let's talk about that small percentage of kids who are technically abducted. This means someone took control of them and moved them from where they were supposed to be.
In true abductions, the vast majority of the time the kidnapper is known to the child.
This could be a father taking off with his son over a custody dispute. It could be a grandmother taking her grandchild because she’s worried for the child’s safety. Or it could be that a neighbor has groomed a kid to get into the car with them to go get ice cream where bad things then happen.
The internet has opened up a new way for kids to go off people they know. Pedophiles will groom kids to meet in public. The kid will think they know the person they are going to meet and may not feel they are in danger, after all, they are friends - right?
Less than one percent of children who are abducted are actually taken by a stranger.
That is an incredibly low number. So the idea of our child being taken out of your front yard is low. You still need to keep an eye out for them, don’t get me wrong.
Shift Your Thinking
Knowing this we as parents need to shift our thinking to begin to monitor our kid’s relationships with adults that they know. Don't waste your energy on the fear of a stranger taking our kids. Instead, let's understand the relationships our kids have with people who have an influence on them.
The key here is to make sure our kids have healthy relationships that are good for them. Also, follow your gut, if you feel that a friend or neighbor is taking more of an interest in your child, then you need to intervene in a strategic way.