Robert Seith | CWK Network
“I think that today’s parents certainly have the dilemma of knowing how much to make their child aware of the dangers around them. I think that sometimes we go a little too far. There are a lot of other issues probably more pressing -- like whether or not a child buckles their seatbelt in a car. [They’re] much more likely to be hurt in a car crash than they are by somebody abducting them.”
- Len Pagano, Safe America Foundation -
The abduction and murder of an 11-year-old girl in Florida last February drew national attention and caused many parents to worry, and wonder… If faced with an abductor, would their child be able to escape?
Dana Jeske has tried to prepare her 7-year-old son, Ben. “We’ve taken some defensive arts classes so he knows how to react in certain situations when someone is doing something he doesn’t like.”
“Like some person who wants to take me somewhere and try and torture me,” says Ben.
A program called “Kids Fighting Chance” is designed to teach kids how to fight an attacker. The program’s co-founder says that with practice, kids can learn to respond well in potentially harmful situations.
“It’ll allow you in a dangerous or chaotic situation to respond with clearer thought and clearer responses,” says Richard Seid, co-founder of Kids Fighting Chance.
Independent safety experts say it doesn’t hurt to teach a child one or two self-defense techniques, but parents should also be realistic.
“To try to give a child too much information at six, seven years of age, you’re certainly understanding that they’re not going to remember that much,” says Len Pagano, from the Safe America Foundation.
And parents should keep the danger in perspective. According to The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the vast majority of missing cases are not abductions by strangers; they are runaways or family custody abductions . For example, o f 800,000 missing children cases in 2002, only 115 were stereotypical “stranger” abductions. So, too much talk and training for such a remote risk may only make children unnecessarily afraid.
“I think that each parent knows when their child is getting fearful,” says Pagano. “And if you can sense that you’re putting too much fear into a child, I think you should start to pull back.”
And what about Ben? He says all the talk of “stranger dangers” hasn’t scared him yet.
“Well, it’s just because I’m actually kind of brave,” he says.
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