An 11-year-old girl told authorities she fought off an attacker Monday evening as she walked home from school in what Minneapolis police are calling an attempted abduction. 

This is every parent’s nightmare. According to FBI statistics, about 300 children are abducted every year from a stranger somewhere within the USA.   Also according to the FBI, abductions are done by luring children to a vehicle rather than taking them by force, about half were 4 to 11 years old, and the others were 12 or older. 74% were girls. What can we do as parents or as a community to protect our children? We need to prepare our kids to be able to identify a dangerous situation and then teach them how to react to avoid the person by using any means. We need to talk to our children and teach them what to do if a person in a vehicle is trying to talk to them or if a stranger tries to talk to them at a park, mall or any venue. We need to arm them with the knowledge and knowhow to get away from a bad person who has cruel intentions. 
If someone tries to grab your child or a vehicle approaches them to ask them a question, they should run away, scream as loud as they can and find their Mom, Dad or trusted adult. They should use statements like, ‘Stranger!’, ‘You are not my Mommy or Daddy!’, ‘Help!’, or ‘Call 911!’ and make as much noise as they can.  They can even carry a whistle or any type of alarm to scare the potential abductor away. Best case scenario is to identify the stranger before he/she gets close enough to grab your child. Normally, a person who is looking to abduct a child does not want to get noticed or worse yet caught. He or she wants to snatch and get away very quickly.  By making a lot of noise, the abductor’s potential for getting caught increases. If grabbed, the child must get away from that bad person by using any means scream, kick, scratch, hit in groin, or poke eyes. 
Making your children more aware will allow them to be more observant of the world around them and make better and safer decisions.  This starts with you leading by example. A parent must limit all modern day distractions (i.e. use of cell phones, PDAs/Smartphone’s and headphones) and know what is going on in the immediate area of their child’s environment. Controlling this environment is much easier when your children are with you. The true challenge begins when your child is walking home from school or playing on the playground when you are not around, will they make the right decision to keep themselves safe?
Help your children to learn how to observe and how to tell when something doesn’t look right. Furthermore, tell them where to go and who to tell when they see something that doesn’t that doesn’t look right.
We need to teach our children that…
  • a stranger is ANYONE they don't know.
  •  it is okay to say NO to an adult, if they feel uncomfortable or don't know the adult, even if it seems rude.
  • to not wear any type of headphones while outside. This will make them oblivious to any vehicle or person stalking them.
  • they know that NO ONE has the right to touch them if they don’t want them too.
  • they should tell a parent if they are asked to keep a secret from you.
  • they should never get into anyone's car without their parent's permission.
  • they should not take candy or gifts from a stranger.
  • they should never help strangers.  Remember, tell your children that grownups should NOT ask kids to do things that other adults can do for them.
  • they run away from a car that pulls up beside them if they do not know the driver.
  • they never say they are alone when they answer the phone and should never answer the door if they are alone.
  • they never invite people into their home without their parents’ permission.
  • they always let their parents know where they are.
  • that they never play in deserted buildings or isolated areas.
  • they should scream for help if they are forced into a car or building.
  • how to identify "safe" people (like store clerks, mother's with children, and police officers/security officers) if ever lost.
Parent’s Checklist:
  •  I have a recent photo of my child, his/her fingerprints, and a current record of his/her height and weight.
  • I make a mental note of what my child is wearing every day.
  • I carefully check babysitter and child care references.
  •  I know my child’s friends’ names, addresses and phone numbers.
  •  I always accompany my young child to a public bathroom.
  • I designated a neighbor’s home as a “safe house” where my child can go if I’m not home and there is an emergency.
  • I have discussed with my child that they will not approach a vehicle if it stops and asks them questions, offers them candy or toys, or wants to talk with them.
  • I use safety drills, similar to what kids regularly do at school, to point out the importance of being observant and how to react to a stranger.
  • I have checked my neighborhood/area to see if there are any known sex offenders in your area by using the National/State Sex Offender Website which is coordinated by the Department of Justice and located at:
  •   I will report suspicious vehicles or people to law enforcement.
  •   Does my child know how to dial 911?
  •   Do not write the child's name on their clothes or books.
  •    I always know where my child is.
Remember, children are our gifts and they mean everything to us. Let’s take the time to teach our children to be aware and what to look for and what to do if a stranger does approach them. We all need to learn from that brave 11 year-old from Minneapolis.  When a bad person comes at you to cause you harm, you need to do anything to get away.