On July 11, 2011, 8 year-old Lieby Kletzky was abducted in Brooklyn, NY. Before then, the most famous NY area child abduction was when 6 year-old Etan Paitz was reported missing on May 25, 1979. There was a 32 year span between these highly publicized abductions, and while it was catastrophic to both families involved, most New Yorkers continued with their lives with the notion that child abduction might be something that really didn’t happen that often in that area.
Statistically, an abduction by a complete stranger is the rarest of events, making up about 21,700 of abductions by strangers vs. 200,000 abductions by family members each year (according to The US Dept of Justice 2010 Study conducted by Attorney General Eric Holder and The Department of Justice NISMART study 2002).
In 1996, The AMBER Alert System was placed into effect. AMBER stands for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response and also stands as a legacy to 9 year-old Amber Hagerman, who was abducted and brutally murdered in Austin, Texas earlier that year.
In 2005, The US Department of Justice created CART (Child Abduction Response Teams) and pushed a nationwide initiative in hopes of responding quickly to incidents of missing and abducted children. On a very personal note, CART was created as a result of my 11 year-old cousin, Carlie Brucia, being abducted and murdered in 2004.
Pretty somber statistics, stories and facts about very real children.
Stranger Safety has been gaining a lot of attention lately. If you live in the Northeast section of The United States, mostly you have heard about it happening in the rest of the country, but seldom had a local experience…until recently. As I write this blog, there have been over 10 attempted abductions, all by complete strangers in the New York/Long Island area in the last 10 days!
Here is a HUGE REALITY CHECK: It is not enough to have rapid response systems in place to help children who have been abducted. It is CRUCIAL to educate children, in a non-threatening environment, about the dangers strangers may pose. We MUST teach children what to do BEFORE a stranger approaches. How can we expect children to make the correct choice when confronted by a stranger if we are uncomfortable discussing the topic?
Another important and vital statistic according to The US Department of Justice: In 8,000 failed child abductions attempts over the last 8 years, 83% of the time the child escaped because the child knew what to do!
1. Define the word stranger: any person that you do not know
2. Tell your child that strangers can be friendly and may even try to befriend them
3. Advise your child to NEVER trust or go anywhere with a stranger
4. Show your child that a stranger may lie to them or try to trick them
5. Beware strangers bearing gifts – remind your child that you never get something for nothing
Practice these five tips with your children. Start them thinking about the concepts. Review these tips often. Reinforce their importance. Visit http://www.rosebrucia.org/downloads for free videos and lesson plans to further concrete the message.
Be certain that if a stranger in a van pulls up to your child that your child will know automatically not to trust them and not to go near them!