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Child Safety Situation #6

Girl, 6 years old; abducted from ball park.

One warm night in 1995, Denise* took her three young children to the ball park to watch a friend play baseball. Denise told her oldest daughter, six-year-old Kate*, "You can play with the other kids in the sand near the field, but don't go anywhere else." Whenever Denise looked away from the game or up from tending her younger children, she saw her pretty blond-haired daughter and the other kids digging in the sand.

When Denise noticed some of the kids Kate had been playing with had come back to the stand, she asked them where Kate was. The kids said Kate stopped on the way back to get some sand out of her shoes. Although Denise immediately retraced their steps and looked all around, she could not find Kate.

Somebody told Denise that Kate was probably hiding, but this did not calm Denise. "I know my daughter," Denise said. "She is very shy and quiet. She would not go off by herself in the dark. She did not run off."

By now Denise was frantic. She cried out to everyone: "My daughter Kate is missing. Please help me find her." One man told Denise, "I saw her playing with the other kids. Now that I think about it, I noticed another man looking at her. I did not think anything about it at the time, but now that she is missing, his staring so hard at her bothers me." He also told police, who were immediately called, that he had noticed a red pickup truck parked near the sandy area, and it was no longer there. When the police heard that, they knew they had a kidnapping on their hands. They knew a man driving a red pickup truck had recently tried to grab two other kids that week.

Despite an immediate Be On the Lookout (BOLO) and the circulation of a composite of the suspected predator and hundreds of thousands of posters with Kate's picture on them, Kate has never been found. There is a $60,000 reward for her safe return.

What can you learn from Kate's story to make you more predator resistant?

Fight Back:
If someone grabs you, try to get free before he drags you into his car or house. Kick him in the shin. Trip him by stepping on his shoe while he is walking. Stamp down hard on the top of the arch of his foot. Bite his hand. Stab him with your pen.Throw dirt or sand in his eyes.

If you can break away, like the other children did, run for your life. The predator probably will not chase you far, because he is afraid others will notice he is trying to kidnap you and will then be able to give police a description of him and his car. Or, he may simply decide to look for easier prey to catch.

Scream "Somebody help me! He's hurting me! He's not my daddy." No matter how scared you are, keep screaming you need help. Even if the man says he will hurt you if you scream, scream anyway. You must understand that if he gets you off by yourself he is going to hurt you a lot more. If he puts his hand over your mouth, so you cannot scream, bite his hand and scream as loud as you can.

If he stops for a red light, jump over the seat and try to get out the back door. Even if the car is moving slowly, it is better to have scrapped knees than to let him take you to a deserted spot to hurt you as long and as much as he wants.

Leave a Trail:
When he is not looking, drop a piece of your jewelry or your shoe out of the car window. Maybe, like Hansel and Gretel who left a trail of little white stones when they were taken into the woods, you can leave something to show the direction he took you. If law enforcement immediately brings in a well trained bloodhound to find you, it will recognize your scent on the things you were wearing or carrying, and the searchers will know they are on the right path, once your parents confirm that these are your things.

Almost the only thing the police know for sure when there is a predatory abduction is what the child looks like. This is not surprising when you think about it. Predators want to get away unseen. They look for children alone. They move in for the grab when no one is in sight. Practically the only way a child abducted more than a few days is ever going to get home is for someone, like you, to spot the child and call the F.B.I. to report the child's whereabouts. The more specific are about where you saw the child the more likely it is the police will find the child. So, if you can, get the tag number of the car the child was in or the street where you saw the child. But even reporting what city you believe you saw the child in may help. The more eyes looking for a child, the more likely it is someone will spot the child. Go to the The Jimmy Ryce Center website, or the STOP SEX OFFENDERS' Missing Children Area, and "adopt" one of the abducted children pictured there who is still missing. Look for him or her for a month as if the child were your own. Remember, ears and the jaw are some of the most recognizable features.

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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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