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Child Safety Situation #2

Boy, 2 years old; abducted from park.

Danny's* mom Julie* watched her son proudly as he slid down the slide at the park near her home. "Only 2-years-old," she thought, "and just look at him. He's not afraid of anything." When she and her cousin decided to go to the store and pick out some crabs to eat, Julie realized she did not have Danny's stroller with her. "With mom, my two sisters, and lots of cousins playing here, Danny will be alright," she thought.

When Julie got back to the park about a half hour later, she did not see Danny anywhere. When her mom told her she had seen Danny running after a red ball just a while ago, Julie really got scared and said: "I did not bring a ball to the park, and I do not see any ball here now."

Julie has never seen Danny since the day he was taken in 1989 from that park near their home. His mother says, "I believe Danny is alive. My hope is that whoever took him wanted to raise him as her own child, not hurt him."

What can you learn from this story?

One of the few Great Escape Maneuvers (GEMs) you may be able to teach a young child who is being carried away is to scream "Help me somebody! You are not my mother!" or "You are not my father! Somebody help me!" The problem is the child may not remember the rule to scream for help if the person is not the child's father or mother. It is easy for the child to forget the rule when he is engaged in play or is promised something good to eat.

What to do:
Kids as young as Danny are probably always going to chase after a ball thrown to them or go with someone to see their puppy or to buy an ice cream cone. It is natural to believe you can raise your children without personally having to watch them every minute. But what we once thought was safe for our children, no longer is. You can't take your eyes off your child playing in a public park because he or she can be gone in the blink of an eye.

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*Names changed to protect privacy; information presented for educational purposes only. Reprinted with permission from The Jimmy Ryce Center.

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