Child abductions by strangers are rare, but they do happen. Use these tips and discussion questions to better equip them when it comes to stranger danger!
Child abductions are not fun or easy to talk about. In fact, they are sickening and horrible. However, the most important talks are not easily talked about. If handled properly, it will not “destroy their innocence” – quite the opposite – it may save their life. For example, you don’t talk about “fire safety” to scare a child, you do it to protect them in case of a fire.
For three months, hundreds of people around the Miami area searched diligently for little Jimmy. While searching for missing jewelry and a revolver, Chavez’s landlord found Jimmy’s backpack in Chavez’s trailer on her property – the only thing of Jimmy’s that Chavez kept. She also found her jewelry and the murder weapon – her revolver. Shocked and horrified, Chavez’s fishy behavior began to make sense and she alerted the authorities at once. Two weeks before Christmas, Chavez was arrested, broke, and told them where Jimmy’s body was found.
Today, after numerous appeals, Chavez was lethal injected and pronounced dead a little after 8 PM (Personally, I would have preferred the electric chair). His last meal was ribeye steak, french fries, some fruit, strawberry ice cream and mango juice. My stomach hurts just thinking about it! This man kidnapped, raped, murdered and butchered a 9 year old, and he gets treated like that?
“There can be no doubt that Samuel James Ryce lived every minute of the last few hours of his life with the fear of death.” Miami Circuit Judge Marc Schumacher said. And yet Chavez’s attorney had the nerve to say the lethal injection procedure was unfair and unconstitutional due to some “excruciating pain.” Fortunately, the judge didn’t buy it.
Jimmy’s sister commuted suicide in 2012 and his mother died of a heart attack in 2008. Jimmy’s father, Don Ryce, knew that Jimmy’s murder still haunted the family and he believes this was the root cause of both deaths.
Don says he wants to turn a negative into a positive. He actively takes a stand against child sex offenders and creates awareness of the problem. The Jimmy Ryce Center for Victims of Predatory Abduction provides bloodhounds to police to track missing children, which may have saved Jimmy’s life. They also work to keep prone repeat sex offenders locked up longer.
Beyond Stranger Danger
- What is a stranger?
- What should you do if you get separated from me in a grocery store, parking lot, etc.?
- What should you do if someone tries to grab you?
If you haven’t started talking about stranger danger with your kids, begin with the basics.
- Do not go with anyone unless Mommy or Daddy approves
- Do not get in the car with someone you don’t know, no matter who they say they are
- Do not accept candy/toys from strangers
- An adult/stranger does not need help from a child (finding a puppy, fixing something, etc.)
- If someone does something inappropriate or makes you feel uncomfortable, talk to Mommy and Daddy
- If someone attempts to take you, yell, kick, and scream – draw attention to yourself.
- Remember that it is ok to say “no!” if you feel truly uncomfortable with something
- Don’t post private information on the Internet (specifically city, school, phone number, and last name.)
- Know that people may not always be who they say they are online
If you have began talking to your kids about stranger danger, would your child know what to do if s/he was suddenly grabbed, or held at gun point and told into get in a car?
- Be alert and aware of your surroundings
- Do not go into dark, secluded places, especially alone
- Keep an eye on toddlers and small children all of the time
- Keep doors locked when home alone, and never open the door for anyone unless parents give prior approval
- ALWAYS stay out of arm’s length when walking on the street (so someone cannot grab you from a car)
- NEVER go ANYWHERE alone, whether it be the bathroom or home from school
- NEVER go anywhere without a parent’s permission
- ALWAYS let someone, preferably a parent, know where you are, and what time you expect to be back
- Know local sex offenders. Keep on the look out for suspicious behavior, especially around parks and other places where many children are
- No matter if the person is armed or not, if someone tells you to “get in the car” in a threatening manner, FIGHT, RUN and SCREAM. (Screaming something like “you’re not my mom!” can help) In most cases, the predator will get scared and drive off.
- If someone attempts to forcefully abduct you (like walking up behind you), yell, kick, fight, and scream. Draw lots of attention to yourself.
- When you get to safety, call the police immediately
- Create a password system. If you are unable to pick up your child, give them a password and give that password to whomever will pick them up. I can’t remember her name, but I do remember one abduction victim, held at gunpoint, calling her Mom for ATM information. Her mom gave her the information and didn’t think a thing about it. The girl was dead within a few hours. Create a password with your child!
What to do if you witness an abduction
I’m no expert, but I can tell you if you see something obviously wrong, you must step up and help that child. If that was your child, you would want someone to help him or her.
If you sense something suspicious, like a little child talking to a person in a car and then getting in the car, or if you see a mother leave her child somewhere and another man walk up and take them, confront the person.
Call the police if you seriously believe something is wrong. If you see a child screaming and yelling, trying to get away from a potential abductor, please step in and help!!
For More Information
- The Jimmy Ryce website has resources for kids and for parents to empower them, not simply make them paranoid.
- Learn the difference between Amber Alerts and a Code Adam.