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The worst nightmare of every parent is having their child stolen from them, never to be seen again. But most of us believe it could never happen to our own children. No parent can find it in their heart to so much as imagine their children being targeted by a kidnapper. The mere thought of our children being sexually molested by an abductor, or worse even tortured and murdered, is just too horrible to consider. Most parents choose to think of child abduction as a nightmare that could never happen in their community or to their children. But sadly this nightmare becomes a horrifying reality for tens of thousands of parents every year. A The U.S. Department of Justice report shows that 797,500 children younger than 18 were reported missing in a one year period of time, an average of 2,185 children being reported missing each day. This same report showed 203,900 children were the victims of family abductions, and 58,200 children were the victims of nonfamily abductions. 115 children in this report were the victims of “stereotypical” kidnapping, involving someone the child does not know or a slight acquaintance who holds the child overnight, transports the child 50 miles or more, kills the child, demands ransom, or intends to keep the child permanently.
Children can be abducted from any place at any time. There is a case on the FBI's records of a child being stolen from her own backyard, within five feet of her mother who was just inside of the doorway washing dishes. Other kids have left for school in the morning, just like every other morning, except they never arrive. Parents have been known to send their children to browse around the toy section of a store while they finish shopping, and never see their children again. Many kidnappings are done by a parent who does not have legal custody of the child, usually as part of a bitter divorce or estrangement. Regardless of the kidnapping parent's intentions, frequently the desire for revenge against the spouse, the child suffers the consequences of being uprooted from home, deprived of the other parent, and forced to lead a life on the run.
What can we, as parents, do ourselves to protect our families from this terror? The old cliché "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" has never held more truth than in this instance. Years of experience and research by national law enforcement and child protection experts has shown conclusively the surest defense against kidnappers is the education of our children and ourselves as parents about this clear and present danger to our families. When followed up by united community action, organized by us and our neighbors at the local grassroots level, our children can be assured of the safety they need and deserve.
So, there is much that parents can do to protect their children and minimize their risks; and the natural place to begin a protection program for your children is in their world of home, school, and community.