Hell hath no fury like a father whose precious daughter had been kidnapped, like Liam Neeson’s character in the movie ‘Taken’. But what if fiction becomes reality? By Lilian Wu
Remember the McDonalds’ boys back from the 1980s? They were two schoolboys who had inexplicably gone missing and to this day, no one knew what really happened to them. Scary, isn’t it? While you wouldn’t want to alarm your child unnecessarily and traumatise their childhood in the process, it pays to teach them the dangers of abduction. Here are some tips to kidnap-proof your little ones.
Pay Attention To Your Surroundings
As long as you are out and about with your children, you should always be vigilant. In fact, make sure you know where your kids are at all times. It doesn’t matter whether you are picking them up from childcare or having fun at a friend’s party, your child should always be walking by your side or holding your hand.
Don’t be in such a hurry that you are constantly walking ahead of them or get so engrossed in your phone because this could create the perfect opportunity for strangers to sweep up your child and disappear into the crowd before you even realise it. There are many video instances online where the child was almost abducted because the parent wasn’t paying attention, so please stay vigilant.
Don’t Talk To Strangers
While it’s important to teach your child not to talk to strangers, sometimes strangers could come up with convincing lies. For example, they may tell your child that daddy or mummy is hurt so parents have to go a step further: teach your child not to believe there is a change of plans unless a trusted person tells them otherwise.
Circle of Trust
Keep a short list of trusted people that your child can rely on without question when you need them to inform your child of a change of plans. It can be his grandparents, their preschool teacher when in school etc. and try not to deviate from it. It’s also important to help your child recognise safe strangers. For example, a policeman patrolling the neighbourhood is a very recognisable ‘safe stranger’ but above all, teach your child to seek help in a public place like a local store or eatery.
Recognise Dangerous Situations
Help your child to identify potentially dangerous situations because strangers don’t always look like the bad guy. Even adults known to the child may do or say something that makes them uncomfortable, so it’s important to point out different types of suspicious behaviour. For example, an adult should never ask the child to disobey their parents or do something without permission. An adult shouldn’t be asking your child for assistance either, so he should learn to find and tell a trusted adult immediately. Some possible scenarios:
Don’t Put Your Child’s Name In A Visible Place
It’s fun to personalise your little one’s stuff with their name, but it could also tell strangers what they need to know in order to gain your child’s trust because children are also more likely to believe people who know their name.
Sometimes a stranger may attempt to take your child away by force. In such cases or when he’s feeling threatened, you may want to teach your child to scream as loudly as possible. This will hopefully deter the stranger from further action because it would draw unwanted attention from passers-by.
It’s Okay To Leave
Another way to protect your child is to teach them that it’s perfectly okay to leave if a situation is making them feel uncomfortable. This also applies during family gatherings where they may not be comfortable with hugs and kisses from relatives.
Learn How To Be Assertive
Being assertive in a potentially dangerous situation could protect your child from being abducted or taken against their will, so it’s a valuable skill to teach them.
Not everyone has a ‘particular set of skills’ that will make them a nightmare for abductors like Liam Neeson’s character nor can they hover over their child 24/7. But you can still protect your child by teaching them about strangers, suspicious behaviours as well as a few precautions to protect themselves. Remember, preparation is half the battle won!