How to protect your children from being kidnapped

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In light of the rise in the number of missing children cases in Krugersdorp, the most recent being that of Dineo Mokoena, a Monument High school pupil who went missing near the school, child safety must become a priority.

It is impossible to prevent an abduction, but there is no harm in being informed and prepared should something happen. The News spoke to Jacqui Thomas, the Director of the Pink Ladies Missing Children Organisation.

“Most true abductions occur when victims are 14 or younger and unable to defend themselves,” Jacqui told the News. She went on to say that female children are more likely to be abducted although there are many instances where male children are taken for sexual purposes as well.

The main differences between the crimes of kidnapping and abduction:

The victim in a kidnapping can be an adult or a child, but for the crime to be classified as abduction, the victim has to be a minor.

A kidnapper’s intention is to limit either the victim’s freedom of movement or the parental authority of the victim’s custodians. In the crime of abduction, the perpetrator has an additional intention, namely for himself or someone else to marry or have sexual intercourse with the minor.

A person can be kidnapped without being physically removed from one place to another, but in an abduction the physical removal of the victim from the parental authority in the parental home is a requirement.

Jacqui went on to say: “If someone attempts to forcefully remove a child or young adult, the victim should stop, drop, kick and scream to make it as difficult to remove them as possible. We teach people to to attract as much attention as they can.” She advises parents to teach their children to scream, “I don’t know you, I don’t want to go with you, you are not my mother/ father/ grandmother (etc),” when they are in danger of being kidnapped.

“Anywhere children are left unattended can become a problem area in terms of kidnapping. Places like shopping malls and gaming centres are problematic.

Even under-supervised, unsecured residential gardens can become places from which children are easily kidnapped. Similarly, and for obvious reasons, any place where there is a high concentration of adults, alcohol and drug use along with unattended children or young adults there will be a high instance of sex crimes against children as well,” Jacqui told the News.

Colonel Van Staden, the investigating officer in the case of the missing Dineo Mokoena, said that in some cases, teenagers run away and are then reported as missing.

“The more beautiful the child, the more they are victims. I have found missing children in brothels, dead and drugged,” Van Staden said.

She says that it is important to scare children away from the streets so that they don’t get tempted to run away, and end up being reported missing.

“Cases of missing children increase in the summer – some genuinely go missing while some run away, but because they didn’t alert anyone, they are reported as missing,” she told the News.

Van Staden advises the public to take heed of the following:

Know who your children’s friends are. Have their names and contact details handy, so that if your child goes missing, you can answer one of the first questions the police will ask, namely, “Who are your child’s friends?”

Keep track of your children’s behaviour because 90 per cent of the time their behaviour will have changed shortly before they went missing.

Watch out for signs of drug abuse, because some of these children don’t go missing – they run away with other drug-using friends

Children are very unlikely to run away without taking extra clothing with them. They often pack a bag of clothing before leaving, so be aware of where their clothes are at all times.

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  AUTHOR
Portia Mokowe
Journalist Intern

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