TACTICS OF PREDATORS AND ABDUCTORS, AND HOW TO DEFEND AGAINST THEM

In the previous text, we touched on the topic of abduction and how we should introduce children to this topic. What is an abduction? Abduction is a criminal offense that involves taking a person away without their consent, often holding them in captivity. Family abductions are also abductions, regardless of the abductor being someone the child knows.

Abductions can be familial or criminal, and when they are familial, they can often be predicted. Several signs indicate that a child may be taken away by one of the parents or someone from the family:

  1. Threats of abduction or attempts to take the child away
  2. Planning to leave/move, such as selling the house or obtaining documentation.
  3. If the person has marriage problems, disputes with the spouse about the child and custody
  4. Issues with violence, whether against the child, the partner, or both
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Criminal abductions are rare in Serbia

Although criminal abductions in Serbia occur once or twice a year, it’s important to highlight that they still happen, and anyone can be a victim, although statistics show that girls between 10 and 14 years are primarily targeted. According to research by the American Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 83% of children who escaped from abductors did something proactive: they ignored the abductor’s words, yelled, kicked the abductor, or started running in the opposite direction.

This means that the best thing a child can do if someone tries to abduct them is to take action instead of being passive or polite. To prevent abduction, it’s necessary to work with your child on understanding this danger. Below are several scenarios that have proven successful in the past and enabled abductors to take a child. Read them, familiarize yourself, and then educate your child.

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The more children practice, the better prepared they will be in a real situation.

Tactic: Offer

What it looks like: The abductor offers the child something to lure them, like candy, a toy, or a ride in their car. How to defend: Explain to children that they should refuse gifts unless they first consult with you. Practice this when someone you know offers a gift to your child, observe their reaction, and guide them on how to respond.

Tactic: Animal

What it looks like: The abductor shows the child a puppy or some interesting animal, inviting them to pet and feed it together. How to defend: Emphasize to your child that they should not pet and feed strangers’ animals. Especially if that person calls them to their vehicle or apartment to see the animal.

Tactic: Danger

What it looks like: The abductor approaches the child, says they are in danger, and needs to take them to safety. How to defend: Instruct your child never to go anywhere with anyone without an adult’s permission. Let the child learn to say: “I can’t go with you until I check with my mom/dad/teacher” and then leave.

Tactic: Family Friend

What it looks like: The abductor says the parents are very busy, that he is their colleague from work, so they sent him to pick up the child. How to defend: First, arrange with the school and daycare not to let the child go home with anyone who isn’t their parent. Then explain to your children that you will inform them if someone else is coming to pick them up, not you.

Tactic: Help

What it looks like: The abductor stops the child, then holds them by asking for a certain street or store. How to defend: Tell your child that adults should ask other adults for help, not children. Let the child practice saying “I’m sorry, I can’t help you.” Also, remind your child to keep a distance of at least one to two arms’ length if communicating with unknown adults.

Tactic: Modeling

What it looks like: The abductor approaches the child, compliments their sneakers, hairstyle, or face, and says they should consider modeling. The abductor asks for the child’s information, where they live, who their parents are, and either invites the child into the vehicle immediately or visits the child at home when they are alone.

How to defend: Teach children that a casting agency will try to talk and make contact with a parent or guardian, not the child. Also, explain to the child not to give their information to anyone without first consulting with you.

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