Teaching Children Escape Strategies if Grabbed by a Predator
Two young girls from Evansdale, Iowa have been reported missing on Friday after the two cousins went for a bicycle ride together and did not return home. Their bicycles were found abandoned near a lake. We all hope and pray for the safe return of both little girls. Their disappearance, however, is a cautionary tale.
My book, What Would You Do? A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers, teaches children how to avoid being grabbed by a potential predator, and how to fight back to escape if they are grabbed. The book even offers strategies for children to employ if they are unable to escape the grab and are put into a car. Parents should practice all the strategies in the book with their children.
The book stresses using the buddy system, a very good strategy for all children. Children should never go anywhere alone. However, the possibility exists that even the buddy system may have failed the two Iowa girls, as they are both missing.
Both girls were on a bicycle ride together when last seen. What Would You Do? A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers explains one particular escape strategy that would be a good one for children to try if they are riding a bicycle when approached by a potential predator. A child who has been grabbed by a potential predator, while screaming something specific, such as “Stranger 911” or “Help! I don’t know this person”, should also kick, punch, scratch pull hair, wriggle around as much as possible to escape the grasp. If a child is on a bicycle, as the two young cousins from Iowa were when last seen, the child should try to keep holding on to the bicycle. This will make it harder for the abductor to pick up the child.
Even though the buddy system is a good strategy for children, it can sometimes fail to protect. Children, who are with a friend and are confronted by a potential abductor, may be reluctant to leave the side of the friend. If we are to believe the character, Maverick, from the film, Top Gun, we never abandon our Wing Man. However, former FBI profiler, Clint Van Zandt, has suggested that when two children are confronted by a potential abductor, the children should run in opposite directions. The abductor cannot easily pursue both. He will have to choose which to pursue. The other can run for help.
An ideal scenario would be one in which both children, using such a strategy, manage to escape to safety. However, we don’t live in an ideal world. That is why it is important that children be taught the right thing to do whenever faced with such threats.
Picture credit: Anissa Thompson