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May 17, 2013

Take precautions to prevent kidnappings

The Daily Star

---- — It has been nearly two weeks since the arrest of Ariel Castro in Cleveland on rape and kidnapping charges for acts that should send a chill through the spines of everyone in America.

“The horrific brutality and torture the victims endured for more than a decade is beyond comprehension,” said Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty.

It has been reported that one of the women is said to have had five pregnancies that ended when Castro punched her in the stomach until she miscarried.

Why are we bringing this unpleasant incident up now, when some would consider it old news?

Because it’s not old news. Kidnappings can happen everywhere, including our rural, realatively safe area. Many involve family custody disputes, but some can be by strangers who only care about satisfying some perverted lust and more often than not kill their victims.

Just three days ago a mother walking with her three children in Sacramento, Calif., watched as a man grabbed her 7-year-old daughter, threw her into his vehicle’s trunk and drove away.

The girl’s mother started screaming, attracting the attention of neighbors, who then called 911. Fortunately, the little girl was able to open the trunk somehow and jump out of the moving car. She was scratched up, but otherwise unhurt. A neighbor found the girl on the ground.

“I started talking to her and that’s when she was telling us, ‘he stole me, he stole me,’” said the neighbor.

Happy endings like that are rare. Yes, it’s scary, and yes, it can happen here. But yes, there are things we can do that can help prevent kidnappings.

“There is no guarantee of safety — we hope it never happens,” Nayor said. “But we have to prepare. … Parents really should take time to educate their children. There should be firm rules.”

These include:

• Don’t talk to strangers or take rides from strangers.

• Children should know that if someone does try to abduct them, they should yell and kick and avoid being enclosed in a car that could take them away.

• Strangers shouldn’t be allowed into a home.

• Children answering a telephone shouldn’t share personal information.

Children also can learn “to be good witnesses,” Nayor said. They can get the color and license number of a car, he said, adding that parents can teach their children through role-playing and other game-like exercises.

Parents and children also should be cautious about adults who are overly friendly to youngsters.

“There are predators out there,” Nayor said. “It could be someone they know.”

Let’s make sure we do all we can to make this scary world a bit safer.