Escaping Abduction: Sending Kids a Message

By Jill Kasparie, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - As awareness of abduction cases rises, authorities are fielding more calls about suspicious activity.

As this happens, they're stressing the importance of keeping kids educated. The reality of losing a child to a stranger is enough to catch any parent's attention.

"We are finding out it affects entire communities," said Linn Co. Sheriff's Department's Deputy Rob Taylor. It affects the entire country."

Authorities, like Linn County Deputy Rob Taylor and Cedar Rapids Officer Shannon Stokesberry, focus on very specific lessons for kids.

"They should always try to keep a safe distance from strangers, never talk to them, never get in the car," Officer Stokesberry said.

"If there is an attempt at a physical apprehension, create a commotion, draw attention to yourself, scream, fight back," said Deputy Taylor.

"Yell and scream 'you are not my mommy, you are not my daddy' and keep yelling it as loud as they can," Officer Stokesberry said.

There's evidence kids might be picking up on the lessons. Reports from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children show 83 percent of children manage to take action to escape when someone tried to abduct them. A couple of young girls from Cedar Rapids have never been in a kidnapping situation, but they know how to think on their feet if approached by a stranger.

"Just don't even talk to them and just run away and tell an adult and maybe you can tell them the color of the van or something," said Ella, 10.

Catey, 6, knows what to do if someone tries to grab her.

"kick, scream or bite," Catey said.

Both girls said they've heard about strangers taking other children. So, they're taking their lessons to heart.

"I feel like I just feel sad and I feel like I just don't want it to happen to me," Ella said.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited children said only about 25 percent of all kidnappings are at the hands of a stranger. The predator in the rest of the instances is a family member or acquaintance of the victim.
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