Happy Mothers Day News: Kidnappings Like Cleveland Less Likely than Ever

Hi Readers — especially, today, moms! While you eat your burnt toast and funky eggs in bed (something, by the way, my kids never did for me), here’s news to brighten your day and life, from a Washington Post article: “Five Myths About Missing Children.” It’s by David Finkelhor, who was an extremely helpful and insightful source for me when I wrote my Free-Range Kids book. He’s director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center, where he looks at facts and trends, not myths and fears, abut kids’ safety. Here’s Myth #1- L. 

Five Myths about Missing Children by David Finkelhor

The news, at the same time shocking and hopeful, about the discovery of three young women who went missing in Cleveland about a decade ago has riveted the country. The notion of a stranger grabbing a child off the street occupies a prominent place in popular fears. But the missing-children cases that rise to the level of news tend to distort perceptions of how often children go missing and why. It’s important to sort out the myth and reality about missing kids.

1. Most missing children have been abducted by strangers.

Stranger abductions, such as the case of the three young women in Cleveland, are fearsome because they appear random and so often involve rape or homicide. But children taken by strangers or slight acquaintances represent only one-hundredth of 1 percent of all missing children. The last comprehensive study estimated that the number was 115 in a year.

Far more common are children who have run away, have gotten lost or injured, have been taken by a family member (usually in a custody dispute) or simply aren’t where they’re expected to be because of a miscommunication. The only scenario more unusual than stereotypical kidnapping is when families falsely report a child as missing to disguise murderous deeds. ….

Read more here, to see stats on how children are safer than ever, including the fact that the Internet is NOT making kids more vulnerable to predators.
Rachel Bella Calof by Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest
Relax, moms!

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14 Responses to Happy Mothers Day News: Kidnappings Like Cleveland Less Likely than Ever

  1. anonymous this time May 12, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

    Each one of those young women got into the car willingly. If I can identify one thing I wish this article had brought out, it’s that: don’t get in the car.

    I know, people can be forced into cars, they can be chloroformed, they can be knocked off their bicycles or incapacitated in some way. But they can also be lured into vehicles, often with something as simple as convenience.

    Once you are in the car, you are at an incredible disadvantage.

    My son got into a car with a “stranger” once: he had run away as a 5-year-old, it was full-on dark, he was crying. He was in trouble. He resisted getting into the car, getting help from the “stranger,” but she convinced him she was there to help him, that she had car seats in her car, she was a mommy, and he clearly needed help, and that’s why she stopped and offered him a ride to safety.

    I applauded my son’s choice. I applauded his initial resistance. My ex-husband wanted to tell him that he’d made a terrible mistake, but I disagree. If you are in serious trouble, take the help, take the ride. If you’re getting off work and don’t want to walk home, don’t take the ride. If you’re minding your own business as you’re walking somewhere, don’t take the ride.

    Getting into the car is an important decision, and not to be made without careful examination of the circumstances. As a 44-year-old woman, I would not casually get into a car with any man who offered me a ride, even if I knew him from somewhere. I went on many dates with young men in their cars, but I never got into a car with someone who offered me a ride somewhere. All three of those young woman took the ride. Where is the highlighting of that fact? They didn’t sign up to be enslaved prisoners for a decade when they took the ride, but I would hazard that even an evening’s worth of sexual assault wouldn’t be worth the ride.

    Don’t get in the car.

  2. Sarah in WA May 12, 2013 at 9:36 pm #

    Of the three women, the kidnapper knew the youngest one. She was his daughter’s best friend–far from a stranger. I just saw an interview with her mother, who was very frustrated to find out that her daughter had pretty much been right under her nose for all those years. The kidnapper had even come to vigils and assisted in searches for her.

    It’s most often not the random strangers you need to worry about.

  3. oncefallendotcom May 12, 2013 at 9:37 pm #

    Lets not forget one other key fact. THE SUSPECT WAS NOT ON THE PUBLIC REGISTRY. Megan’s Flaw fails again.

  4. Uly May 12, 2013 at 10:52 pm #

    oncefallendotcom, on May 12th, 2013 at 9:37 pm Said:
    Lets not forget one other key fact. THE SUSPECT WAS NOT ON THE PUBLIC REGISTRY. Megan’s Flaw fails again.

    And yet, there were calls right after for background checks on school bus drivers. Never mind that no checks would’ve caught him, never mind that these young women were not stolen while he was operating as a bus driver…!

  5. lance mitaro May 13, 2013 at 12:21 am #

    Other factors are probably involved in the decline, too. Over the past three decades, we have become more aggressive about finding, prosecuting, incarcerating, supervising, treating and deterring sex offenders.

    Operative word being “probably” here, folks. Translation: -highly-speculative conjecture. I wonder if the sun shines where the author conjured up this pearl of wonderment?

    800,000 on the registry which represents a little under 1% of the current population in America. This is telling in that it’s a statistical improbability to even try and blame the decline on “those people.” This author clearly is buying into the lies about how the registry is a “deterrent” for those on it and prevents recidivism, which it doesn’t. Funny how when a child goes missing or when a child is found in a sex dungeon, the media goes into full witch hunt mode on sex offenders? I really don’t see the smoke clearing any time soon.

  6. john May 13, 2013 at 1:33 am #

    I feel so much better to know that only 40% of the 115 stereotypically kidnapped children will be killed. Why do you think that this “Mother’s Day” attachment supports your position? Are we to assume from this that child kidnapping IS a real part of every day life in America and is just another one of those problem solving exercises that children should learn to solve for themselves? I realize that statistically the probability is small, however it does not appear that this attachment goes very far in supporting your premise and position, one which I endorse and have practiced raising my own son in that small town Chicago.

  7. hineata May 13, 2013 at 4:18 am #

    Gee, I will have to forward this to my daughter’s best friend. Her mother was just telling me that BF is using the Cleveland kidnapping as an excuse not to take the bus , because she might get kidnapped! Never mind that Cleveland is about 10,000 km or so away from here, or that the bus driver wasn’t driving a bus when he picked up the girls. Or that kidnapping, other than Chinese on Chinese, is so incredibly rare in New Zealand that I can only think of one example in the last 15 years (and that was for ransom). No, the excuse doesn’t wash! BF’s mum is making her catch the bus over to our place Wednesday :-).

  8. Taradlion May 13, 2013 at 7:52 am #

    I had a conversation with my building’s super over the weekend. He used this case after making a statement that things are “getting so much worse.” I reminded him that these events happened 10 YEARS ago and that 2 of the three “girls” were women. He asked me if I worry about my soon to be 12 year old taking the subway and I told him I worried more about her not being able to navigate the city (or anything else) far more. He has told me he (and our doorman) used to watch her when she walked the dog on our block. I hope it was in a “neighbor hood keeping an eye out” sort of way. (Not a that mom is crazy sort of way).

    This weekend when it started pouring my son (newly 9) threw on a poncho and ran down stairs. The doorman called up to ask if he could let him go out on his own. Yes. He just wants to stand in the rain.

  9. Natalie May 13, 2013 at 8:46 am #

    Once I was at the park and my 2 1/2 yr old threw a tantrum while we were leaving and my 6 yr old ran off – she was angry too – by herself to the car, which was up a hill and down the road, far out of my sight. She constantly surprises me with her sense of direction. Well, rather than manhandle my 2 1/2 yr old and start running after the 6 yr old, I let the 6 yr old go and took a few minutes so that my 2 1/2 yr old could pull herself together and walk back to the car.
    As we were climbing up the hill, I could hear people asking where the mother was and “oh, that’s the mother” etc, etc, Another mom asked if I needed help. And when I finally got to the car, where my 6 yr old was waiting for me, still angry, there were 2 teenage girls waiting with her, talking with her. And a few other worried passers by craning their necks trying to locate me. About 10 people making sure that she wasn’t alone.

    So yes, we’ve got community, and that’s nice. I’m grateful that people take it upon themselves to look out for others. My 6 yr old is very small, she looks like she could be 4, maybe 5. But I also hope they’re not thinking, “that mom is so irresponsible letting her daughter run off like !”

  10. pentamom May 13, 2013 at 11:21 am #

    John — if only 40% of the 115 kidnapped kids will be killed, that means only about forty-seven kids in the entire country will be kidnapped and killed AT ALL. I think that does support the position that there is very, very little to fear in terms of your child being kidnapped and killed, and that the fear of that happening should not drive your decision-making, when there are much, much greater chances of other good and bad things happening.

  11. Stephanie May 13, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

    My kids know that they aren’t supposed to go anywhere with a stranger, which has worked almost too well. They’ve refused rides with a neighbor whose house they play in. The neighbor and I laughed about it when she told me that they used the “don’t go anywhere with a stranger” rule on her when she offered a ride on a rainy day. Maybe they didn’t recognize her right away, I don’t know.

    As for me, I have taken a ride with a stranger. It was the best option at the time. My car broke down a few miles out of town on a road that had no call boxes, pre cell phones. I decided it was better to take the ride to a gas station with the stranger who offered kindly than to take my chances with whoever showed up next. It was scary, I hope I never have to do that again, but turned out just fine.

  12. John May 13, 2013 at 1:20 pm #

    I agree whole heartedly with Mr. Finkelhor but he needs to explain this to Nancy Grace and Bill O’Reilly. Good luck with that.

  13. oncefallendotcom May 14, 2013 at 12:48 am #

    Crimes rates, including sex crime rates, began a decline in 1993, three years BEFORE Megan’s Flaw. They leveled off in 2000 and has remained relatively steady ever since.

    If anything, the “increase” in crime in the 60s and 70s were more the result of better record keeping with the introduction of the NCIC. In the 1980s, it was the “war on drugs/ crime” and in the late 1980s, there was a masive change to the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) as well as the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS).

    I’d like to point out that our steady crime rate is still higher than in the 1960s, when crime supposedly spiked.

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