In the article "Escape and Evasion 1: Overview", we touched on a topic that's both difficult to read, and painfully common: kidnapping.
This section of the article was added as a sort of wake up call that in dealing with situations of illegal captivity, the people we need to reach the most clearly aren't young, healthy men who spend their free time on the Jiu Jitsu mats or at the range. They are women and children. While doing research for that article we came across some numbers that were stunning and truly deserving of their own topic.
Whether or not you have children, having a firm understanding of the modus operandi of the kidnapper could be the difference between someone else losing their child.
While we often hear things such as "not my problem" in the self-protection community, 1-in-5 abductions were stopped by an adult intervening. It's hard to express just how impactful this one act of courage could be in the lives of the parent and child being victimized.
In "Be Prepared...?" we highlighted what we believe is a fundamental truth: being prepared to help others is a source of great contentment and purpose. So, as we move through this topic, whether you're a parent or simply a bystander, be ready to identify some of the marks of the abductor, and how you can interfere with their plan.
Abduction, by the numbers
It's hard to describe the love a parent has for their children. They embody not only our hopes for the future, but they are living vestiges of our ancestry... they're the hereditary success of hundreds of thousands of years of human life.
We just generally agree that children are precious, however, viewed in this light, it becomes a little more clear what's at stake.
In "Be Judgmental", we discuss at length the threats that face women, so let's draw on it, and look at both how abductions occur, and how we can approach teaching our children to be wary of them. In many ways, all our previous work leads into the kind of close protection that's required to keep children safe, so we'll reference a large number of previous works that are relevant to this topic.
For example, recall from "Don't Wear the Juice 2", we discussed the frequency of emergencies. In it, we took FBI statistics which identify that a kidnapping takes place once every 40 seconds in the United States (FBI UCR, 2017). That means that for the things we can prepare for, this is a pretty high probability, high impact event.
With that said, it should be tempered with the knowledge that not all kidnappings are the same. That said, let's look at some of the facts surrounding Abduction:
- - 68% of attempted child abductions involved a vehicle.
- - Approximately 31% of the attempts happened when the child was going to or from school (or a school related activity)
- - 34% of those attempts occurred during the hours of 2:00 7:00 PM - the hours children are least likely to be supervised.
- - 64% of abductions involve a female child.
- - 35% of children abducted are between the age of 10-14 years old.
Of the incidences that had an outcome of escape;
- - 51% of the children walked or ran from the suspect.
- - 29% of the children (one in three) reported yelling, kicking, pulling away, or attracting attention.
- - 20% involved a Good Samaritan or parent coming to the child's aid.
Let's break that down.
According to the statistics, the most likely means of abduction will be someone approaching the child from a vehicle (68%). The child is most likely to be approached when traveling to or from school during the hours parents are usually at work (2-7 PM). The child will likely be female (64%) and between the ages of 10-14.
Most of the time that a child is able to escape, it's by running, with attracting attention helping in almost 1/3 of the incidences reported (29%).
So, now we have established some facts, we can start planning some ways that your child can make themselves a harder target.
It's miserable that we have to think about this, and often, grim realities go ignored because it's really emotionally taxing to give them the attention they deserve. After all, most people go through their lives without being abducted, so why stress over it?
Well, as we have mentioned, women face this kind of nonsense their entire lives. Instilling some habits for awareness in them now will likely mean that they're less likely to make some of the mistakes that traditionally result in attacks or abductions later in life, as well. For our sons, discussing these hard realities with them may give them the presence of mind to detect and perhaps even assist in stopping an abduction, so taking the time to give them some information is a benefit, regardless of their risk category.
While there are organizations that specialize in women and children's defense and awareness, such as our friend Steven Dana's "Protection from Abuse", we will discuss some of the measures you can take to 'train' your child to prevent them from being victimized... starting at home.
Security at Home
First of all, good security hygiene at home is a great place to start. Reinforce that children shouldn't open the door as soon as they hear a knock or a doorbell, and that they should wait for an adult. Ensure the child has locking windows in their room - take it a step further and purchase some door/window alarms, if you don't have a security system that covers you already. Finally, look over our Home Security Audit. It's a good way to assess whether or not you've left any ins for criminals.
If you use security cameras, don't set them up to use WiFi, which is vulnerable to hacking. Use hard wired cameras that can't be accessed by someone with technical knowledge. This allows you to have footage of what's going on in your home recorded and saved without risking compromise or unauthorized access to your 'secure' networks. Remember: if it's wireless, it's available to anyone so long as they know how to collect it.
Often, in advice articles, you see things like "Don't let them walk home alone" or "don't get into a car with a stranger". OK, that's a nice thought, but can you control the circumstances your child faces to such a degree that's possible?
Everything in life is a 'risk vs reward' metric. So for example, while ride-share services such as Uber and Lyft have spotty track-records, it's important to note that abuses are really pretty rare. Let's look at some strategies we can use to harden our families against criminal selection.
- Responsibility - This is one of those issues that, depending on the child's age, will mean different things. While anyone who lived through their teens will recall that not being 100% honest is a big part of it, talk to your kids about trust and its importance. If your child feels comfortable calling your for help, it can go quite a way towards a good outcome if they find themselves in a pinch. Table the disappointment if they're up to no good. It's better to be disappointed than bereaved.
- Recognizing danger (lures, ruses, and grooming) - Talk to your children about the methods adult predators work, starting with "trust your gut". Children often have an innate sense of uncertainty around people - encourage that. You don't own anyone unhurt feelings, and neither does your child. You do own your child protection. Discuss with them how if they're approached by a person in a car offering candy or to show them a puppy, in order to lure them into a vehicle. This video punctuates why your children need to be trained to identify these situations. In addition to the link there, we'll embed the video because every parent should see it. (Link below)
Be sure they understand that just because they've met someone once or twice doesn't mean that person isn't a stranger. Talk to them about grooming, and playing games like house or family with older kids or adults. Finally, make sure they understand that if they're approached by adults, they should default to "let's go ask my mom/dad if that's ok." Teach them to say "I'm scared of dogs", or they don't like candy. Teach them to play KIMs Game. Shut down the approach.
- Awareness and Avoidance - As we often discuss, being aware is one of the biggest advantages you can deal to yourself, from driving to home security. Discuss with your kids when you go to a park who's there. Discuss with them who is at the park. Simply being aware of other adults can help both you and your child have a running threat matrix.
- Fight back! - This could mean a lot of different things because as we discuss in Children and Violence, there's a huge difference between a 4, 8, 12, and 16 year old child. For any age, however, yelling, biting, kicking, screaming is appropriate. Get them to yell like you just grounded them. Martial arts can also be a solid benefit. As we discuss in "Fights", they'll get fitness and technical skill out of it. It might not make them into a wrecking ball, but it will at least give them some confidence, physicality, and experience with 'opposing will'.
- Vary routines - Part of predatory behavior in humans is what is commonly referred to as "stalking behavior". Having a routine that's predictable and 'usual' makes it easy to be followed. In addition to throwing a potential stalker off, you can use your habits to help identify potential stalkers... if you think you've got someone following you, making three right turns can help verify that they are. The odds of someone making the exact same loop as you to get back in the direction you were just heading are low.
Additionally, if you are being stalked on foot and suspect a car or person is following you, change your direction. Again, it'll be very obvious that they've *also* changed direction and you can confirm your suspicions of danger. It will also take time for them to change directions discreetly, which may allow you or your child time to escape.
- Tracking devices - These days, everything from Gizmo Watches to cell phones have GPS tracking in them. For your kids, leave it on. While we entirely get the privacy concerns, the risk vs reward in the case of your children is worth it. While they might resent it, you can still respect their space while having their location in case something does happen.
- Online Presence - *Especially* as they age, be aware that cyberspace is worse than the bar scene from Star Wars. All sorts of scum and villainy lurk within. Discuss with them that they shouldn't use social media to make friends, but rather keep in touch with the ones they already know. Have them set their profiles to private, and viewable only to friends. Don't use location services through social media or its image sharing features. All of these things are information that simply not handing to potential predators could result in criminal de-selection.
- Drugs and Alcohol - While we might not want to think about it, it's going to happen. Be real about drinking and the effects there of. We're mainly talking about younger children in this article, but the threat doesn't just stop when they turn 18. Teach them the effects drugs and alcohol have on judgment, and how people take advantage of that. It's OK to talk to them about it.
- Self Defense and Escape and Evasion - In the case of Samantha Josephson, the man who abducted her after she mistook his vehicle for her Uber, it was revealed that the man used child locks to prevent escape. A simple tool for breaking glass, such as the GTFO wrist-strap or APEK 5.0 could have been the difference between this young woman being stuck in the vehicle, captive, or escaping. There are other methods; glass breaking tools, improvised tools like spring punches, or hard substances like Aluminum Oxide Ceramic, so look in to a solution you think will work for you. Remember: If it's not on you when you need it, it might as well be on the moon.
Self defense, as we've discussed, is a lot less about 'winning' a fight, and a lot more about losing as little as possible, especially for women. For people who are smaller framed, Jiu Jitsu is arguably the most effective form of self defense for keeping a stronger opponent from overpowering you. It'll be difficult, but all things worth doing are. We won't discuss weapons any more than we have, since this article is geared towards children.
Finally, we discuss further methods of defeating captivity in the forthcoming article "Defeating Restraints".
This is a difficult topic that amounts to every parent's "worst case" fear.
While we spend most of our time discussing how to make YOU more resilient, we have to trust that you'll pass on the relevant lessons to those in your care.
When it comes to skills like escape and evasion, those most likely to need it are women and children who disproportionally face abduction and illegal custody in the modern West.
As with most of the things we discuss, there isn't an easy, cut and dry solution that guarantees the outcome we want. What we can do is give a spiderweb of approaches that allows you to interrupt the attack cycle, by using good awareness, social judo, and making ourselves difficult to target by using good security practices.
We can arm ourselves with some tricks and tips to confirm our suspicions, and we can learn and teach our children some methods to escape if we are trapped in a car.
While we often hope that if we ignore these things, they won't happen, everything at ISG is based on the reality that bad things happen to good people all the time, for no real reason. Once we accept that, things like this become no different than a fire drill... a low probability, high impact event that you don't want to think about for the first time when some stranger has you trapped and at their mercy.
Be smart, plan ahead, and be safe,