Keep INFORMED and Keep SAFE
People who abduct children use a variety of lures geared to different ages of children. The lure to a 3 or 4 year old child may be different than the lure of a child 8 to 10 year old. An abductor will use a lure to:
- Lead a child away
- Draw nearer to the child in order to grab them
- Gain their trust with friendly conversation
- To find out if the child’s parents or guardian is close by
Young children know that some things can be dangerous such as fire, moving cars, hot stoves, electrical outlets, swimming alone or approaching strange dogs, for example. We teach children to have a healthy fear and respect for these potentially dangerous items and situations because they are commonplace. We discuss with our children the dangers and provide prevention strategies. We need to have the same discussion when it comes to encountering people that may try to lure them into dangerous situations.
Lures: – What are they? A lure is a decoy or false story told to someone to entice them into a situation where they may not willingly go if not prompted to go there. Lures are often delivered under the guise of power and can be used both individually and in various combinations for the desired outcomes. Serial killer, Ted Bundy combined the Authority, Emergency and Name Recognition lures to abduct and murder a 12 year old girl. After spotting her name displayed on her sweatshirt, Bundy approached her wearing a name tag that read “Richard Burton” – Fire Department. When Bundy called her by name and claimed her house was on fire; she immediately left with him.
Three of the most popular lures are Assistance, Lost Pet, Bribery and On Line.
The Assistance Lure: This allure appeals to the innocent nature of children and very popular among child abductors. The goal is to entice a child into or near vehicles or remove them from a safe area, for instance in a part or a mall. Predators may ask for directions to a fast food restaurant, the nearest store, an address of an old friend or where they can find the nearest church. Children may be asked to help carry packages to a car or into a building. Some pretend to be disabled and in need of a helping hand, sporting a brace, crutches, a cast, a sling, or a cane. Ted Bundy often used these lures as a ruse to get young women to assist him.
- Let your child know that adults should never ask children for help.
- Let them know it is okay to say “NO” to an adult that they don’t know well and that they do not have to provide a stranger with assistance, even if they appear to be in dire need.
- If someone in a car has stopped and tries to engage them in a conversation, the child should turn around and immediately walk in the other direction and leave the area. If they are approached in a public place such as a park, a mall or school ground, the same rule applies and they should tell a trusted adult.
- Teach them that threats of violence to them or their friends and family are not true and they do not have to listen to the adult.
- Tell them to RUN!
The Pet/Money Lure: – Children love animals and can be easily caught off guard. A child may be asked to help search for a lost pet or asked to see a new litter of puppies or kittens that are offered to them for free. Children may also be lured by the offer of money to help them look for a lost child or pet.
- Explain to your child that a stranger or someone that they do not know well may use animals to lure them into a dangerous situation. Children should never enter a home, car or building or leave a public area to search for an animal.
- If asked to help look for lost pet, the child should not answer but turn and find a safe place and report the incident.
The Pet Lure has been used in many horrible crimes and the perpetrator typically approaches several children before securing a victim.
The Bribery Lure: The age old lure of bribery still works. Young children are offered candy and toys while older children might be tempted with concert and sporting event tickets, video games or payment for odd jobs.
- Teach your children and your teens that a person with an offer of any kind is a bribe intended to lure them into a trap. Gifts given to children with the request that it be kept secret is also a warning sign.
- Tell them not to agree to meet a person at a location to help with a job that they will be paid for later in the day. They should not question the person’s motives or inquire about the details. Tell them to turn and run in the other direction and report the incident to you and the authorities.
Luring On The Internet:
The Internet has become a necessary tool in our lives but unfortunately, child predators have adopted the power of the World Wide Web to gain access to our children. They search out vulnerable and lonely children that they find on social media platforms, gaming sites and begin a dialogue with them, often sympathising with their situation. They may also pretend to be the same age as the child in order to fain their confidence and trust. The next step is often a suggestion that they meet in person. This is when the offender will take the opportunity to abduct or sexually assault the child.
When you have decided that your child is mature enough to go on-line, insist on having their passwords and approve and limit all websites and social medium platforms. Keep in mind there are hundreds of social media platforms available so trust will be a big issue with your child.
- If your child is on a laptop or desk top, keep it in a central location or in a place where you can “peek over their shoulder.”
- Try to learn some of language your kids and their friends are using. Mostly it is acronyms and symbols. Such as POP = parent over shoulder. MIRL = meet in real life WTTP = want to trade pictures. KPC = keep parents clueless. 9 = parent watching. NIFOC = naked in front of computer. As fast as you are reading this, more of them are being created.
- Check their history regularly. However, they are probably fairly savvy at hiding where they’ve been on the web so talk with them about boundaries and limits.
- Once they are old enough to have a cell phone, their activity will be much more difficult to monitor. Almost 100% of their on-line activity will be accessed through their mobile device where they will have access to the ever-growing multitude of new sites and social platforms. Keeping up with it is pretty much a losing battle. Talk with your child about trust and the reality of on-line predators.
- Warn them about posting personal information, their location or up-loading or sharing risky photos. The best prevention is communication and a stern reminder of who is paying for their cell phone.
Children can be taught the warning signs and to know what to do if they are faced with these situations. Teach them that it is “okay” to be assertive with adults if they feel uncomfortable around them, even adults that are relatives and close to the family. If your child tells you that they don’t want to play a certain game with a relative or seems uncomfortable around them, do not insist upon it. Give them the confidence and permission to trust their own instincts. Keep the lines of communication open. The best weapon we can arm our children with is knowledge and the tools to prevent them from becoming a victim.