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Child Safety Situation #4

Boy, 6 years old; abducted while walking alone to school bus stop.


Etan Patz put his black pilot hat on his head with the bib shading his large blue eyes, the way everyone he knew wore baseball-type hats in 1979. He picked up his blue book bag, without noticing today the elephants imprinted on it, and raced for the door.

Every school day during first grade, Etan's mother Julie or his dad Stanley had walked him the two blocks to his school bus stop in the Soho section of lower Manhattan. But, today, Julie was busy with his 2-year-old brother, and she decided it would be OK for 6-year-old Etan to walk by himself past the health-food store, the restaurant, the bakery, and several art galleries. Maybe she thought, "Everyone knows him, and he knows everyone. He knows the way and won't get lost. He's old enough to handle this much responsibility."

There's little doubt what Etan thought about his first unescorted trip to his bus stop: "I'm so big Mama's going to let me walk by myself."

No one knows what happened to Etan. Did he go with an unidentified man who was seen walking dogs? Was he grabbed into an alley or car? Was he enticed into the back room of a store? 500 detectives and officers of the City of New York Police Department looked for Etan for weeks. His parents distributed 300,000 "Lost Boy" posters during the first weeks. All they ever knew was that as Etan walked along the familiar route, around 8 A.M., he vanished. This country's Missing Children's Day is observed every May 25 in his memory.

What can you learn from Etan's fate to make you more predator resistant?

Never Walk Alone:
It is not safe to walk alone to or from a school bus stop. Studies have shown that it is one of the favorite hunting grounds for those who prey on children. It is best if you are accompanied by an adult who waits with you for the bus. The next best thing is for you to walk with a group of other children.

Scream:
Unless Etan was immediately knocked unconscious, he would have had time to scream, "Help me! This man is trying to take me." With all his friends along the route, surely someone would have come to help the little boy.

May I Visit:
Etan may not have screamed because he made the mistake of willingly following the man with the dogs to his house or was lured into a store or apartment to get candy someone promised him. Remember, never get in the car or go in the house of anyone unless your parent told you it was OK to ride with or go into the house of that person that day.



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Information presented for educational purposes only. Reprinted with permission from The Jimmy Ryce Center.

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