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Question
Posted by: Anon | 2012/04/23

How to prepare your child in case of a kidnapping

Hi Doc,

These days you can''t be sure what will happen and I regularly think the unthinkable and wonder what is the best way to prepare my children in case of a kidnapping.... Can you please suggest what is necessary for a young child to know and do when this happen, of perhaps in a less terrible situation where they might just get lost somehow?

Reason I ask, i''ve been teaching my little girl 4 for the last year the following: Her name, her parents and brothers name and surname, where mommy works an mommy''s work tel # (it''s the easiest to remember) and in which area she lives. Also, I been telling her that it''s ok to ask a police/traffic officer for help, even though you can''t be sure of who to ask for help these days.
But, now I''m also trying to teach her that if she feels she doesn''t trust a certain individual she needs to run away and either hide of go to someone she thinks she can trust ( I know this might be something she find hard to comprehend), but I feel she needs to know that certain people can not be trusted. I''ve noticed that she gets nervous when I mention " run away from someone you don''t trus" . Your comment would be appreciated! Thank you!

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Kidnapping is extremely rare, and I'd worry that specifically trying to prepare one's kids for being kidnapped would be almost as alarming and unpleasant for them as the real thing. As you've noticed telling her to run away from some people can alarm her more than might be useful.
As your comments include, it would be better to think rather of helping your kids to think through how they could cope with more common but similar situations, such as becoming lost, at the mall, for instance.
For many reasons its excellent for a child to learn her own name, the names and contact details of parents and caregivers, and maybe carry a card with such details as phone numbers written down.
Rather than emphasizing the idea of a world filled with lurking dangers ( especially at her age ) its better to chat about general issues of solving problems, recognizing that not everyone can be trusted and its hard to know who is best to trust.
I agree that some police officers are unbelievably useless, but they should be OK for a child to turn to for help ; maybe to go into a shop and ask an older person behind the counter for help.
Rather stress what NOT to do with others - don't go with other people you don't know, if they approach YOU.
What do other readers think ?

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4
Our users say:
Posted by: Sheila | 2012/04/24

Hi Anon,

This is my worst fear.

I have lost both my kids before and thought they had been kidnapped. One moment they were next to me and the next they were no where to be seen. There are a lot of predators out there, so I was extremely nervous. Thankfully I found them playing out on the swings, doing their own thing. I have told them never to climb in anyone else''s car or go off with a stranger. Also that no one can touch their private parts. They must scream if someone tries to carry them off.

My 2 year old was rather frightened by this all and talks of skelems being outside the window, so I might have over done it with him.

I have made identity kits of my kids. You can download them from the internet and put recent photos of them on this kit, together with distinguishable marks, etc.

My friend''s child was kidnapped from a bookshop inside a shopping mall. The cameras picked up her being led into a strangers car. I don''t think kidnapping is rare, it is a daily occurrence and we have to be prepared.

Be safe.

Reply to Sheila
Posted by: Nini | 2012/04/23

I am no expert at all, but I am a parent.

I totally understand your intentions, and your desire to protect your child in the worst case scenario.

However I cannot help feeling that perhaps you are creating an unnecessary fear in your child? Not that I am dismissing kidnapping as a low rate thing - I am just saying that should a child of 4 years old really have to deal with the emotional " baggage"  or " consequences"  so to speak of something this serious?

I think Cybershrink makes a good suggestion - instead of preparing her for kidnapping, rather change the approach and teach her about what she needs to do if she gets lost, or needs help.

We as parents need to do everything in our power to ensure our children are safe. And if you are comfortable with doing this in the way that you are, then trust your gut. But just keep in mind that she is still very little, and children cannot process thoughts the same way we can. Just be careful that you dont create unnecessary anxiety for her.

Other than that, well done on being pro-active!

Reply to Nini
Posted by: Anon | 2012/04/23

Thank you, makes so much sense now!

Reply to Anon
Posted by: cybershrink | 2012/04/23

Kidnapping is extremely rare, and I'd worry that specifically trying to prepare one's kids for being kidnapped would be almost as alarming and unpleasant for them as the real thing. As you've noticed telling her to run away from some people can alarm her more than might be useful.
As your comments include, it would be better to think rather of helping your kids to think through how they could cope with more common but similar situations, such as becoming lost, at the mall, for instance.
For many reasons its excellent for a child to learn her own name, the names and contact details of parents and caregivers, and maybe carry a card with such details as phone numbers written down.
Rather than emphasizing the idea of a world filled with lurking dangers ( especially at her age ) its better to chat about general issues of solving problems, recognizing that not everyone can be trusted and its hard to know who is best to trust.
I agree that some police officers are unbelievably useless, but they should be OK for a child to turn to for help ; maybe to go into a shop and ask an older person behind the counter for help.
Rather stress what NOT to do with others - don't go with other people you don't know, if they approach YOU.
What do other readers think ?

Reply to cybershrink

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