Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tween Girls Most at Risk for Child Abduction

As we prepare to send our tweens back to school, a sobering new study was released last month by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that finds that tween girls are the most at risk for abduction by a stranger.

Thirty-seven percent of stranger abduction occur between 2-7pm during the week (in other words, just as tweens are walking home from school or to activities), and sixty-eight percent of abductions involve a vehicle. Most tweens were approached by someone in a vehicle, often offering a ride. Other offenders lured kids with sweets or money or with an animal or a story about finding a lost animal. Some asked for directions.

The study authors are quick to point out that their intention is not to scare, but to educate both parents and children about the need to be safe as we all prepare for back to school. NCMEC found that:
  • 38% of attempted abductions occur while a child is walking alone to or from school, riding the school bus or riding a bicycle;
  • 37% of attempted abductions occur between the hours of 2:00 PM through 7:00 PM on a weekday;
  • 43% of attempted abductions involve children between the ages of 10 and 14;
  • 72% of attempted abduction victims are female;
  • 68% of attempted abductions involve the suspect driving a vehicle.
The silver lining? The study hows that kids are their own best protectors. "They escaped these things not through the efforts of good Samaritans, but through recognizing a bad situation and either getting away from it, avoiding it, or screaming and kicking to draw attention," said Ernie Allen, President of NCMEC. "The child should do whatever is necessary to stay out of the car, because once the child is in that car, it dramatically reduces the chances of escape," Allen says.

Every parent's nightmare scenario of their child being snatched tragically occurs every 40 seconds in the U.S., and 800,000 children are reported missing every year.

Sobering facts to ponder this back-to-school season - stay safe.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Below you will find a selection of comments to the original article in The Washington Post. These and other commentators are right to question whether any conclusions at all can be drawn from this "unscientific" study. ("Because of the limitations, the analysis is unscientific...") It may well be that the results are entirely the result of selection bias.

Emmanuel Lazaridis, PhD (Statistics)

jimmy89 wrote:
This appears to be a fluff piece geared toward gaining support for more money for the center that is quickly running out of cash. With Ernie Allens 7 figure salary/benefits and the center cutting tuition assistance and other benefits, you have to wonder what is going on in this quasi government office.
The Government is pouring more money into their operations yet they can't even provide real data. Even the data used to support this article is not scientfic. Trying asking for the data, bet they say NO as they do with all FOIA requests.
If the WP wants to do a real story, look into the data and find out what the numbers really represent. How much are they spending to get the perceived results they report. I bet it is much more than if we sent that money to the local jurisdictions.

kcx7 wrote:
Thanks for mentioning the word "infrequent" within the first two paragraphs of the story.
But "infrequent" doesn't begin to characterize how so extremely rare stranger abductions of children are: about 100-130 kids are victims of stranger abduction annually in the USA.
A child is many times more likely to drown than to be kidnapped. And a child is literally a thousand times more likely to be injured in a car crash than abducted.
The Post does the public a disservice when it fails to put the extreme rarity of the "child abduction" problem into full context.
The media whipped up anxiety about this problem by parading every cute blue-eyed abducted kid on the front pages for days. It's the now media's responsibility to tamp down the hysteria it created, but I'm not holding my breath.

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