There was a story in the news yesterday about a thwarted abduction attempt in Victorville, California. A man attempted to kidnap a 4-year-old girl from inside a store and the incident was captured on surveillance camera. While the girl was standing by the door, police said 24-year-old Terry Ransom, of Hesperia, grabbed her and pulled her outside, but lost his grip on the girl as she attempted to get away.
I am going to repeat that last sentence for emphasis as I want you to read it again :
24-year-old Terry Ransom, of Hesperia, grabbed her and pulled her outside, but lost his grip on the girl as she attempted to get away.
We don’t like to talk about it. Parents of 4 year olds don’t want to imagine it - it is the stuff nightmares are made of. However, this kid got away because she was fighting to free herself from her abductor. She’s four years old.
Four year olds can be taught, through repetition, how they might react in a similar circumstance. At four, they’re typically too young to understand the ramifications of an abduction, which makes it an even better age to teach them fundamentals of self defense.
You can start by explaining to them some situations where a stranger might attempt to grab them. For example :
- Teach them about strangers who offer them candy or other incentives to come close or get in a car
- Teach them about strangers who want to show them their puppy, their kitten, or other props
- Teach them about the dangers of wandering away in a mall
Now, before we get too far into this, there will be haters that come along and tell me that we’re unnecessarily putting fear into the innocence of childhood. A word to my haters - you ask any parent of an abducted child if they would have preferred their child have been equipped to fight back. Not only should you teach your kids to fight back, but to fight to the death if necessary. The degree that you might scare your kid pales in comparison to what might happen to them if you chose to be politically correct instead of equipping them for a scenario that repeats itself across the country several times a year.
So what can a four year old do?
- Scream relentlessly and as loudly and sustained as possible
- Gouge eyes
- Kick in the “nuts”
- Freak out
In essence, we have to use terms they understand, and give them the permission in certain circumstances to do everything we’ve taught them NOT TO DO in normal circumstances. At age 4, most are not too young to understand scenarios in which the above behavior is permissible. Give them permission to act. Then come back to it again and again, with repetition. The repetition can eliminate some fear, but you can also make it reflexive. The repetition will help them know how to react of the situation ever presents itself. Make it OK to break all of the rules. Make it OK to fight.
As soon as you feel the child is mentally ready, I’d recommend giving them some instructions in Krav Maga, which is taught now in cities across the country. Steer clear of the traditional Karate classes for young kids, which put more emphasis on style points than abduction prevention. In contrast, Krav Maga will teach your kid how to fight to freedom. Your local Krav instructor will be able to create a curriculum for your kids, usually around age six or seven.
Until then, help them prepare for the unthinkable. Teach them when to fight, how to fight, and why to fight. In the case of the little girl yesterday, her fighting her abductor was the difference between her being back in her mother’s arms, or potentially being another faceless statistic at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
2017 update - we've released a kids book on the subject, called Vigilant Kids! Check it out on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Vigilant-Kids-David-Happe/dp/0998815004/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1501609165&sr=8-1&keywords=vigilant+kids
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