After the murder of Jessica Ridgeway, what to tell your kids to prevent abductions

After the murder of Jessica Ridgeway, many parents are struggling with how to protect their own children from predators and what to tell their children.

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) said approximately 35 percent of attempted abductions of children occurred when the child was going to and from school or school-related activities. 

A seven year study by NCMEC showed that the children who were successful in escaping an attempted abduction did the following:

  • 53 percent walked or ran away from the suspect
  • 28 percent yelled, kicked, pulled away or attracted attention
  • 19 percent involved a good Samaritan or parent rescuing the child

"We know that teaching children about safety makes a difference, and we encourage parents and guardians to talk to their children so they know what to do in a real life situation," said John Ryan, CEO of NCMEC.  "Teach your children to recognize and get out of dangerous or uncomfortable situations right away and practice basic safety skills with them." 

So what can do you?

NCMEC suggests the following:

  • Teach your older children to always take a friend with them when walking or biking, and stay with a group while standing at the bus stop. Make sure they know which bus to ride.
  • Walk the route to and from school with your children, pointing out landmarks and safe places to go if they’re being followed or need help. Teach your children they should never take shortcuts and always stay in well-lit areas.
  • Even though there may be more safety in numbers, it is still not safe for younger children to walk to and from school, especially if they must take isolated routes anytime during the day or in darkness. Always provide supervision for your young children to help ensure their safe arrival to and from school.
  • Teach your children that if anyone bothers them, makes them feel scared or uncomfortable, they should trust their feelings and immediately get away from that person. Teach them it is ok not to be polite and it is ok to say no.
  • Teach your children that if anyone tries to take them somewhere, they should resist by kicking and screaming, trying to run away and drawing attention – and saying “This person is trying to take me away” or “This person is not my father/mother.”
  • Teach your children not to accept a ride from anyone unless you have said it is ok in that instance. If anyone follows them in a vehicle, they should turn around, go in the other direction, and run to a trusted adult who may help them.
  • Teach your children that grownups should not ask children for directions, they should ask other adults.
  • Teach your children to never accept money or gifts from anyone unless you have told them it is ok to accept in each instance.

Learn more about how to protect your children online. This new FBI website is directed toward teachers, but can also help parents.