Parents Teach Their Children How To Avoid Being Abducted

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National and local news reports of attempted child abductions have increased child safety concerns among parents and the general community. To help parents protect their children through education, the Marion County Health Department has created an educational video using real-life situations to help school-aged children reduce their risk of being abducted.

Through the health department's violence prevention program, "Safety Moves" presents eight scenes to help children learn ways to identify potentially dangerous situations.

A park, shopping mall, home and neighborhood are among sites featured in the video. Each setting begins with an introduction, followed by an example of how a situation should not be handled and concludes with the appropriate response.

All of the examples encourage children to be aware of their surroundings and to ask questions if something seems strange. A key message contained in the video is that strangers can be male or female and come in all shapes, sizes and ages.

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"It's impossible to tell by the way a person looks or acts whether or not they are capable of harm. We know many strangers generally act friendly to gain trust," said Virginia A. Caine, M.D., director, Marion County Health Department.

The vignettes used in the video include a man trying to lure children with him to help find a lost pet. Another scene involves a motorist trying to trick a child into getting into a car.

"One of the segments is based in a city park and involves a stranger offering to befriend a child in order to abduct her. The message is don't play alone and don't ever go with a stranger," said Byron K. Johnson, coordinator of the health department's violence prevention program.

Settings, including a shopping mall, are included for older children who might be approached by individuals posing as mall employees or soliciting for phony business opportunities like modeling.

"What we want children and parents to gain from this educational video is that strangers are a real threat and that we must prepare our children for potential risks," said Dr. Caine.

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