When you have children, it is your number one priority to make sure that they stay safe and, most importantly, in your care. That is to say that every parent’s worst nightmare is having their child abducted.
Unfortunately, sometimes worst nightmares are realized. You may think that the only people at risk of kidnapping are kids, and that just isn’t true.
For example, a 15-year-old from Minnesota was recently returned to her family after being missing for nearly a month.
While younger kids may be even more vulnerable, people can become victims at any age. With that said, the types of kidnapping risks that affect your child are different at every age.
It is important to know what different types of dangers your child may be facing according to their maturity, or lack thereof.
Learn how protecting your child evolves as they do, according to international kidnapping expert Olaf Ofstad.
[H/T: Mirror UK]
According to Child Find of America, up to 2,300 children go missing across the nation every day.
There are plenty of different types of abductions, and what kind your child is subject to also changes with age.
For example, over half of abductions by family members happen to children under the age of 11, whereas 81% of non-family abductions (a stereotypical kidnapping) were of children older than 12.
In an article for The Mirror, crime expert Olaf Ofstad explains how to help kids avoid potential abductors.
Age: Infant To Toddler
When children are this age, you need to do nearly everything for them.
Children this young are still developing basic verbal and reasoning skills, and have very little awareness of the world around them.
As expected, the best thing to do to keep children safe at this tender age is to watch them like hawks.
Chances are, you already do this. As mentioned, family abductions are the most common around this age, and the likelihood varies from one family to the next.
Custody disputes are a common trigger for abductions within the family.
Age: 6 To 10
When children become school-aged, they have budding language skills and a basic understanding of risks and reasoning.
They also might be able to do activities like walk to school or to the corner store on their own.
Since kids are sponges at this age, it’s important to talk to them and tell them about the reality of the risks they face, and repeat the lessons often.
One of the most important points to get across is that they cannot trust strangers. Children this age are curious and trusting, so an abductor will certainly take advantage of this by posing as a nonthreatening figure.
It’s also good to teach kids this age when to run away if someone approaches them, and how to call 911.
One common piece of advice for kids this age is to find a mom with kids nearby if you’re scared or get separated from your family.
Age: 11 To 13
If you’ve ever had an 11 to 13-year-old, then you know that all they want is some independence.
At this age, they are probably going to be more interested in hanging out with their friends than hanging out with you. The hormonal changes they are going through don’t make anything any less complicated, and they might be resistant to advice from Mom and Dad.
It’s important to let your child grow up and do things on their own, but precautions need to be taken.
This is a great age to introduce your child to the importance of keeping in touch through the phone. Whatever specific precautions in terms of where and when they should be are up to you, but knowing where they are is key.
Additionally, children can be taught that it’s OK to defend themselves and how to identify suspicious behavior at this age.
When your child becomes a teenager, chances are they will enjoy a lot more independence. This can be everything from going to the mall with their friends to attending a party with drinking and drugs.
Of course, what specific situations your child will be faced with depend on their particular social life. On the bright side, they are old enough and intellectually mature enough to understand the dangers that the world and the bad people in it pose.
At this age, you might want to caution your kids to adhere to the buddy system when in public, especially out and about at night.
Since your child will likely spend most of their time with their friends at this age, it’s important that they all have each other’s back and stick to their group of friends and safe areas as much as possible.
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