Experts offer tips to protect children

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 25, 2002

News of child abduction has flooded media outlets across the nation, but abduction can be prevented through proper education and communication.

Mark Rudd, Isshinryu instructor, said there are several things children can do to prevent abduction.

"Never get in car with a stranger, don't let a stranger take a picture of you," Rudd said. "Never keep a secret with an adult. A lot of times when children are sexually abused it is by people they know well. Look for a mother with children or a father with children. If somebody does grab them, yell 'this is not my daddy' or 'this not my mommy.'

According to Rudd, parents can also keep their children safe by following a few helpful bits of advice.

"In our class we teach them to attack targets to get away from somebody," Rudd said. "Self-defense is not necessarily just learning how to attack someone, it is also learning how to get away. Avoidance is the key. If you don't put yourself in a place of high crime, then you can avoid that situation by avoiding the area. If fights and violence have happened there before, then it might not be a good idea for children to be there."

Rudd said children in his Isshinryu classes learn a variety of techniques, both mental and physical, to prevent abduction.

"We teach them to try to be aware of where they are," Rudd said. "Awareness is the biggest thing. Children should not to get into situations where they are away from their parents. We teach them to do different things if a stranger grabs them. We teach them to make a lot of noise. One of the best things for children to do. If they feel weird, then don't be there. Don't go anywhere with strangers."

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children web site offers several tips on how to prevent child abduction and exploitation. Some of the basic tips include:

Know where your children are at all times. Be familiar with their friends and daily activities.

Be sensitive to changes in your child's behavior; they are a signal that you should sit down and talk to your children about what caused the changes.

Be alert to a teenager or adult who is paying an unusual amount of attention to your children or giving them inappropriate or expensive gifts.

Teach your children to trust their own feelings, and assure them that they have the right to say no to what they sense is wrong.

Listen carefully to your children's fears, and be supportive in all your discussions with them.

Teach your children that no one should approach them or touch them in a way that makes then feel uncomfortable. If someone does, they should tell you immediately.

Be careful about babysitters and any other individuals who have custody of your children. Obtain references from trustworthy people who know the potential babysitter and see if you can have access to background screening information about these individuals. Many states give citizens access to sex-offender registries and criminal histories.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children web site also offers basic safety tips for children to follow when confronted by a stranger or an uncomfortable situation.

The site states that "as soon as your children can articulate a sentence, they can begin the process of learning how to protect themselves against abduction and exploitation."

Some of the basic tips offered by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children web site for children to follow include:

If you are in a public place, and you get separated from your parents, don't wander around looking for them. Go to a checkout counter, the security office, or the lost and found and quickly tell the person in charge that you have lost your mom and dad and need help finding them.

You should not get into a car or go anywhere with any person unless your parents have told you that it is OK.

If someone follows you on foot or in a car, stay away from him or her. You should not get close to any car, unless your parent or a trusted adult accompanies you.

Grown-ups and others who need help should not be asking children for help; they should be asking older people.

No one should be asking you for directions or to look for a "lost puppy" or telling you that your mother or father is in trouble and that he or she will take you to them.

If someone tries to take you somewhere, quickly get away from him (or her) and yell or scream. "This man (woman) is trying to take me away" or "This person is not my father (mother)."

You should try to take a friend with you, and never go places alone.

Always ask your parents' permission to leave the yard or play area or to go into someone's home.

Never hitchhike or try to get a ride home with anyone unless your parents have told you it is OK to ride with him or her.

If someone wants to take your picture, tell him or her "no" and tell your parents or teacher.

No one should touch you in the parts of the body that would be covered by a bathing suit, nor should you touch anyone else in those areas. Your body is special and private.

You can be assertive, and you have the right to say "no" to someone who tries to take you somewhere, touches you, or makes you feel uncomfortable, scared. or confused in any way.

Rudd offers Isshinryu classes for children to teach basic self-defense and techniques to prevent abduction. For more information about Isshinryu and self-defense contact Mark Rudd at 222-8261 or Dianne Jones, Adult Activities Center coordinator, at 222-8891.