The Family Room The Family Room Blog Home

How to talk to your kids about kidnapping

The Cleveland abductions leave many parents wondering how to talk to their kids about predators.

By Charyn Pfeuffer - MSN Living Editor May 8, 2013 5:00PM

Each year, an estimated 800,000 children under 18 are reported missing in the United States. That means roughly 2,191 times per day, parents or primary caregivers thought the disappearance was serious enough to contact law enforcement. That’s a lot of panicked phone calls.

Instead of thinking a kidnapping could never happen to your family, start a conversation with your children about how to stay safe if they are faced with a predator.

“Not Cleveland specific, but most valuable for me as a parent to teach my kids, which also pertains to creeps and wackos; to cultivate the wisdom and courage to be sensitive to trust their gut instincts and act on them even if it may sometimes make you feel mean or stupid,” says Terry Wood-Abeyta, mom of two, in California. “Your gut is usually right.”

Gallery: 11 celebrities who speak for animals

Here are some talking points to help you get started:

Teach kids to spot predators

Teach children to spot potentially dangerous actions and people. A child predator is not always obvious and can be someone a child knows, even someone quite charming.

According to the Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 49 percent of juvenile kidnappings are perpetrated by a relative or family member, compared with 24 percent by a stranger.

Here are some common traits of sexual predators.

Create a family safety plan

Create an age-appropriate safety plan with your kids. It doesn’t need to be complicated. A few basic strategies like using a buddy system or knowing their home phone number and how to call 911 can help protect kids from a dangerous situation.

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children offers free safety resources for families and communities to help talk to children about safety and abduction prevention.

Teach kids to protect themselves

Experts say that in a kidnapping situation, fighting back is important. For kidnappings that result in death, the first three hours are the most critical when trying to locate a missing child. A 2006 study indicated that 76.2 percent of abducted children are killed within this short time frame.

Marylene Cloitre of the New York University Child Study Center, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that kids in an abduction situation should kick, scream and shout, “Who are you? I don't know who you are! You're hurting me! Stop it!”  They should try to call attention to the state they're in.

There are some smart things kids can do to fight back, including jamming something into the car’s ignition or, if they’re in the trunk, kicking out the taillights.

Make it easy for kids to be identified

Have your child fingerprinted at your local police station. Not only is it free, it can help law enforcement officials respond more quickly if your child is abducted.

Another clever and easy idea is to keep a current photo of your kid on your cell phone.

"I have a current picture of them on my cell phone. So no matter where I was, if I couldn't find them in one second, I could identify them and say this is my child," Stephanie Kaste, mother of three, told  “Good Morning America.”

Tell us: How do you talk to your kids about safety?

Bing: What to do if your child disappears

More from Family Room:
Strapless dresses banned at middle-school dance
Dad illustrates his kids' lunch bags
Should you bring your kids to work?

Love content like this? Friend us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and find us on Pinterest.

Readers: Calling all mom bloggers — we’re looking for fresh voices on MSN Living. Email us your samples and contact info.

Photo: How to talk to children about kidnapping / Peter Cade/Getty Images

Nov 12, 2013 5:36PM
We have the password system in our house, if someone has been sent to pick you up from school, they need the "password" EVEN if its Auntie, Uncle or Papa. My oldest is 17 and since she started taking the city bus at 12yrs we gave her a cell phone. This is so she can call at anytime if she feels "off" she just picks up the phone and starts talking. She also had the passwprd system as well. Both my 7 yr old and my 17 year old know that if someone asks for help, you back yourself up, and if they move towards you.. RUN! and Scream at the top of thier lungs.
May 12, 2013 9:01PM
It was a very peaceful night on my walk to Clarkston Wa. from Lewiston Id., the roller rink just closed I had no ride, I decided to be proactive and walk I was so happy munching on candy and feeling good. On the Clarkston side I heard a voice of something yelling help help I need some help I lost my dog, being the responsible 12 year veteran of helping adults and their needs, I answered the man, problem? He was so convincing about his need to find his lost dog, under the bridge in this peaceful universe.  
As soon as I slipped out of sight of the bridge light. Separated by a thing that looked human it saw me as an object, product,:" creature to use by force to feed "HIS" desires", today I remember the knife at my throat, feeling what kind of love allows a 12 year old opportunity to challenge himself, learn and grow. Moms love. 
Not any problem is your problem, not obligated to help or solve anything. Not late at night under a dark bridge alone. Not anyone alone by themselves looking for a lost lonely puppy that is afraid hungry please will you help me find him. Words guide us= us:  action, reaction, response etc... Symbols of meaning. :-)
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?

News, stories, tips and laughs for moms & dads

  • Meredith Jenks

    7 hottest fall trends for back-to-school

    Get ready to hit the mall! Check out the hottest back-to-school trends—and get ready to make a major style statement this year.

  • Babies (Photo: Courtesy of Nameberry)

    The best and worst unusual baby names

    Unique, or downright strange?

  • Kevin Droniak (Photo: Instagram)

    The conversations between this teen and his grandma BFF are totally priceless

    This is Kevin Droniak and his grandma. They’re besties, they’re awesome and they’re YouTube stars.

  • Adorable after-school snacks

    Adorable after-school snacks based on kids' favorite characters

    It can be difficult to entice little ones to eat anything at all, let alone to devour a healthy plate. But feeding your kids nutritious snacks after school just got way easier, thanks to these adorably clever and cute snack ideas! For more smart and fun ways to get your kids to enjoy healthful and delicious foods, try one of these amazingly artsy lunch ideas.

  • Mom and daughter (Photo: Sabrina Dominguez)

    Mommy, thank you

    Through a tonsillectomy all the way to brain surgery, my mother deserves some recognition. She's my spine, my birthday shadow, my BFF, my thunder buddy, so Mommy, thank you.

  • White and black mothers (Photo: Keesha Beckford)

    Dear white moms

    My son needs me, as much as yours needs you. Sadly, my son needs me more. He needs someone to have his back, when it seems that the police, the men he'd wave to with excitement as a little boy, see him as a being worthy only of prison or death.

  • Little boys (Photo: Natasha Hanneman)

    5 things not to say when someone shares, 'we're adopting!'

    If you know someone who has adopted and have made some of these comments, don't fret... now you know!

  • Little girl smiling (Photo: Handsfreemama.com)

    Children who shine from within

    "Because you shine from within," I said, touching my finger to her heart. "Not everybody sees it, but I do. I see it. And my job is to protect that light. So when people say mean comments that squelch that light, I want you to tell me. I will protect your light by listening and loving you, my brave, courageous, and unique little firefly."

  • Child sleeping (Photo: Jupiterimages via Getty Images)

    Pediatricians officially want high schools to start later

    Studies have shown that it helps, top education officials have recommended it, and now doctors are officially saying the same.

  • Child (Photo: Jenifer DeMattia)

    An apology letter to my second child

    I may have accidentally dropped you a few times, forgotten to document your first fart, let a little pee fly and dressed you like an idiot, but I have also loved you with every piece of me, and you will never hear an apology for that.

  • Cool school shoes for boys

    The coolest boys' shoes for the new school year

    Back-to-school shopping is still in full swing, and your little gents probably need some new kicks to round out their fall wardrobes (you already picked up some bold shoes for the little ladies in your life, right?).

  • Cheap back-to-school clothes for kids

    25 back-to-school pieces for $50 or less

    Not every kid is a fan of returning to the classroom, so parents try to ease the blow with a little back-to-school shopping.

buzzing now on msn living
follow us
follow us follow us on facebook follow us on pinterest follow us on twitter
family videos