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Child Safety Situation #3

Girl, 3 years old; abducted from a mall when she wandered away from her mother.

At the shopping center Angie* was looking at clothes on sale. Her 3-year-old daughter was standing in the shop beside her. When her daughter wandered back into the mall corridor, a man scooped her up and walked away with her. Maybe he told her he would buy her ice cream. Angie looked down and noticed her daughter was gone. She looked under all the racks in the shop and raced out into the mall. She never saw her daughter again.

What could she have taught her daughter to make her more predator resistant?

At three, her daughter was old enough to be taught to scream repeatedly if someone who was not her mommy or daddy picked her up. Tell your child to scream over and over again, "You are not my daddy! Somebody help me!" Teaching your child simply to cry or scream is not enough. Everyone will just think the child is having a tantrum. Hopefully someone nearby will intervene, or the predator will become so frightened he will set the child down and run away.

What to do:
Stores and shopping centers need to devise a system for locking all exits, including delivery doors, as soon as a child is reported missing. Wal-mart has a system called Code Adam, after Adam Walsh who was abducted from Sears in 1981 and later killed. It caught one predator with a stolen child in its loading bay when the doors closed and the exits were locked. Have the mother inspect each child leaving the store through the one open exit. Warn the mother that the child may have different clothes on and the hair may be a different color or length, as predators have taken children into restroom stalls and cut and dyed their hair and put on the child clothes of the opposite sex.

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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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