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Tips to avoid abduction

CNN and other news sources have focused on a number of cases involving young girls missing and found dead. These widely publicized incidents have placed new emphasis on child safety.

Recent cases underscore the need for parents to teach children how to avoid being seized, and to learn escape methods if they are, said Bob Stuber, a former police officer and founder of the Texas-based Escape School, which runs educational programs across the United States.

Stuber says that even very young children might learn to resist and escape an abductor.

The suspect in the Samantha Runnion case reportedly asked the victim and a friend to help locate a puppy. Such a tactic is common. Young children are especially vulnerable to requests for help, because they are trusting and seek validation.

"They're very, very trusting," Stuber said. "And this is something that parents really have to get down on and start driving that message home, is that you don't walk away with anybody. If they need help, they will get it from another adult."

Stuber suggests various techniques to avoid being in the car of a stranger. "All the way along in a crime like this, there's these little windows of opportunity," he said. "And if the child knows what to watch for, it really only takes about two of these choices to get them out of danger."

Among the techniques children can use to prevent being inside a car, Stuber said, are:

Velcro technique: Children cannot only yell out for help, they can grab hold of an adult for help. This involves the adult in the situation in a manner that forces participation.-

Windmill technique: If somebody is bigger and stronger than the child, the child rotates his or her arm forward in a big circle, preventing the would-be attacker from grabbing hold.

Bicycle Hug: If a would-be abductor attempts to grab a child off a bike, the child can "hug" the bicycle, making abduction difficult, if not impossible.

Techniques for a child inside an abductor's car are also simple:
* The first thing Stuber tells a child is to open the door and get out. Children need to make a lot of noise at the very beginning of this whole process, Stuber said.

*If it's a four-door car, the child can jump into the back seat and go out the back door really quickly.

Stuber said in these types of crimes, the child is not going to get hurt at this point. "He [the abductor] wants to get out somewhere by himself. He may threaten the child, but he's not going to hurt the child right there. That's not what this is about. That takes place later."

*Another technique for a child inside the car is to place an object in the ignition cylinder, where the key goes in. It can be a stick. It can be a button off their clothing. Even bubble gum works. Once they do that, they can't get the key back in.

"If you can't get the key in to start the car, this isn't going to go any further, and that's the key to the whole thing, stopping it," says Stuber. If the car can be stopped or the potential crime can be stopped in the neighborhood, then the crime is going to come to an end.

Stuber advises children placed in a trunk to disconnect the taillights by finding a panel in the back corner of just about every car. "Anybody can pull that panel off. Inside are the wires. If you pull those wires, you disconnect the brake and taillights. Now you have increased the odds 50 percent that the police will pull the car over because it has no brake or tail lights; then they will hear you inside."

Simple actions such as blowing a whistle are among the strongest deterrents, Stuber said. "It's all about common sense," he said. "It's all about taking advantage of little opportunities as they present themselves. And it isn't very hard for a child to do."

Adapted from CNN.