On Friday, October 6, a 12-year-old girl reported that she was grabbed by a man who tried offering her a ride while she was running with her soccer team in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Santa Clarita.
The soccer team had been running from the 23500 block of Bridgeport Lane to an adjacent neighborhood when the victim fell behind. It was then that she said a man asked her if he could give her a ride somewhere. When she declined the offer, the man grabbed her by the arm and dragged her a few feet before the victim was able to break free. Once the suspect lost his grip on the girl, he fled to his black car, believed to be a Toyota or Honda, and sped away.
Instances like the one above occur frequently all over the world, and the unfortunate truth is that in many of them, the victim doesn’t escape. This victim was extremely lucky that she was not only able to break free of the suspect’s grasp, but that he didn’t attempt to chase her down, but instead took off.
Kidnapping is a danger for children of any age, from the young and helpless to those in their teens, and it’s important that you speak with your children and make sure they know what to do if they ever find themselves in a situation like this. Below are a few tips to help you out:
- Always be aware of your surroundings. Whether your child is walking alone or with friends, they should always take a look around once in awhile to make sure they aren’t attracting any undue attention. People who look like easy targets tend to be easy targets, while those who are more alert have a much better chance of thwarting a would-be attacker.
- If possible, call the police right away. This one might seem obvious, but that’s not always the case when it comes to teenagers. When panicked, teens have been known to text friends, significant others or even make posts on social media before thinking to call the police. If your child is kidnapped and has access to their phones, tell them to immediately dial 911 and keep the phone on speaker. Cell phones can be traced, and their chances of being found increase significantly if they can leave their phone on while being tracked.
- Use what you can. When someone is grabbed, they typically focus on trying to free the part of their body that’s being handled. Instead, teach your kids to focus on using the parts of their body that are free. For example, if a kidnapper grabs them by the arms, your child can still use his/her legs to stomp on the fragile bones of their assailant’s feet, kick the attacker in the groin, the knee, or use a free arm to scratch at his/her face.
- Be loud and be clear. During an attempted kidnapping, children and teens should, if nothing else, make sure to scream loudly for help and state that the kidnapper is not their father/mother. The more commotion that’s created will bring more attention to the attempted crime, and possibly spook the kidnapper into flight. If not, bystanders may be able to come and help.
Planning is easy, but being able to act in the moment can be something else entirely. Make sure your kids are well-versed in what to do if they find themselves in a situation like this.