WESTMINSTER, Colo. (CBS4)-The sad case involving Jessica Ridgeway has parents worried and people stunned and shaking their heads in disbelief.
Amid our reactions of horror and fear we want to know the best ways to protect our children.
Afterall, there are reports of nearly 800,000 missing children in the U.S. every year.
“It is a big number and it’s cause for concern,” said Doug Sebastian, founder of the child safety organization KinderVision.
But the reality is many are runaways, children lost for short periods of time who are returned perfectly safe and familial custodial issues. Very few are actual abductions.
But it does happen.
“The reality is slightly more than a third of these occurrences are completely unknown to the child or to the family,” said Sebastian.
About two thirds are people who know the child or family, or are family members.
“People who are pre-disposed to doing this work to gain the confidence or trust in people because it gives them access.”
Many times we’ve seen that with attacks on children; teachers, church volunteers, activity or sports leaders.
Sebastian’s organization has a quiz on its website on which he said many parents do poorly.
The percentage of correct answers is under 50 percent.
“One of the biggest things is in that survey we ask parents if crimes against children are carefully planned and the vast majority of parents say yes they are carefully planned. But the truth is they’re crimes of opportunity.”
They have interviewed a child killer in prison.
“He only had one piece of advice and that was, ‘Parents don’t think it can’t happen to you.’”
But they also found out there were children that predator did not attack.
“The reason he didn’t find his next victim, this child killer was that they were in groups with other kids or with adults. He found no opportunity to approach them.”
Dr. Abby Bleistein, a board member of the child safety organization Kidpower, said it is natural to expect a response from parents now, but it may not be the best response.
“So you take them to school and you drive them for a couple of weeks or a month and you go back to normal. But what happens is it increases the children’s anxiety.”
She suggests ways to talk to your children. Her interview is in the web extra here on this page.
RELATED LINKS: kidpower.org
SAFETY QUIZ: thegreatestsave.org