Call for child abduction UK ‘hub’


May 23, 2013

Source: expressandstar.com

Experts are calling for better recording and sharing of information to help tackle child abduction in the UK.

British-Child

 

A national child abduction “hub” should be created to give a clearer picture of the problem and provide data and support to improve how agencies deal with abductions, according to Ceop, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, and the charity Parents and Abducted Children Together (PACT).

A report from the two organisations found that almost half of child abduction cases reported in the UK between 2011-12 were committed by strangers. The report was based on police data that included 592 cases involving 675 victims.

In 42% of police reports – 247 out of 592 cases – the abductor or would-be abductor was not known to the child. A further 17% were abducted or victims of attempted abductions by a parent, 2% by another family member and 35% by someone known but not related to the child. Another 4% were by unknown offenders.

The report, “Taken – a study of child abductions in the UK”, warns that at present the true extent of child abductions is “impossible” to calculate with the necessary accuracy because of inconsistencies in the recording of offences.

It reveals that details of different types of child abductions and held by police forces, government, legal bodies and voluntary agencies, but says that this information is not always published or made routinely available.

The report, which comes ahead of International Missing Children’s Day on Saturday, sets out 14 recommendations, including agreeing a UK-wide definition of child abduction and improving how police record and respond to incidents. It also calls for a revamp of current “stranger-danger” warnings for children, and suggests there should be better learning from why so many attempted stranger abductions fail.

Kidsentfuhrung

Geoff Newiss, PACT’s director of research and author of the report, said: “This new report exposes the reality of child abduction in the UK today. Whilst children are abducted by parents and people known to them, a large proportion of incidents still involve strangers, often trying to lure a child into a car, and sometimes succeeding in doing so.”

Lady Catherine Meyer, founder and chief executive of PACT, said: “Many will find its revelations shocking. More importantly, by showing the extent of this hidden scandal, PACT’s report provides a vital platform for future action. The next stage of our work will be entirely focused on the practical steps necessary to protect our children from the would-be abductor.”

In 2011, Ceop took over the national strategic lead on missing children and now collaborates with partners to better understand and address the issue. Chief executive of Ceop, Peter Davies, said the report shows the immense harm that child abduction can do. He said: “Together with our partners, we must constantly redouble our efforts to reduce the risk to children. International Missing Children’s Day is a good opportunity for us to reflect on this important and complex issue.”

 

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Child Abduction: Teach your child about stranger safety


August 20, 2012

Source: The Asian Parent

It pays to be cautious of who your child engages with in public places, but are we emphasising the wrong things when we teach our children about stranger-danger?

We’ve seen and heard the stories in the news, on crime dramas and even from friends. Child abductions, paedophilia, even maternal psychological conditions that lead to women believing other people’s children to be their own. As parents, we treat any and every of such stories dead seriously, but are we scaring ourselves — and our children — into a corner?

Protecting our children will always be the foremost priority. But existing perceptions of “stranger-danger” builds itself around a stereotyped shady-looking person whose sole purpose in life is to take away your child and do bad things to him or her.

Reality check: I’m not that person. And neither is more than 99.9998% of the Singapore population (or just about anywhere else), the last time I checked anywhere outside my house.

In fact, teaching your child about stranger-danger based on popular concepts may end up harming your child’s social development – and may even put your child in more danger. We explain and bust 3 major myths of stranger-danger so you can be the judge.

shutterstock 16842502 Teach your child about stranger safetyMyth 1: Don’t talk to strangers

Strangers are everywhere. They can be the neighbours that never say hi, casual shoppers in malls, hawkers selling you chicken rice, and even fill up an entire classroom on your child’s first day at school. Teaching your child not to talk to strangers will instill a fear of socialising within your child, when in reality, your child will need to learn to deal with strangers for the rest of his or her life.

Myth 2: Don’t go anywhere on your own

Part of a child’s learning and development depends on the ability to explore the world around him or her, with or without parental supervision. At some point your child will be old enough to take care of him- or herself, but before then, cautioning your child not to venture out on his or her own will only delay the process, and is also a major cause of parent-child attachment issues.

Myth 3: Stranger-danger is everywhere

Our media will play up missing children reports, not only for the sake of finding these children, but also because the drama draws more eyeballs. Similarly, local authorities will always caution for us to err on the side of safety, simply because it is the foolproof way of cutting down such incidents. Based on police statistics, though 3000 missing persons reports are filed annually, only 0.0002% of Singapore’s resident population remain missing every year, most of whom are adults and/or runaways, and not kidnap victims.

In fact, your child will much more likely be harmed or abducted by a known relative or family acquaintance than a stranger. But given that kidnapping is a crime punishable by death in Singapore, chances of your child being abducted is extremely slim given the risk the would-be abductor has to place on his life for the act.

We share some sensible insights by Lenore Skenazy, host of the radical parenting show “World’s Worst Mom”, who also helps reconnect worried parents with reality in her book, Free-Range Kids.

Teach your child to interact with strangers

Outside of your own family and social circle, the world is mostly made up of strangers, and in reality, we’re really all good people who just think your child is adorable.

In her book, Lenore categorically states that “(the) ‘Don’t trust anyone!’ lesson could conceivably end up making (a child) less safe”. In the event that a child does encounter a predator, he or she won’t be equipped with the social understanding that calling for help from other strangers and attracting attention is a viable option.

“The safest kids are the confident kids”

So says Ernie Allen, head of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. His organisation provides a solution based on studying children successfully escaping abduction attempts — the kids did it by kicking and screaming, a reaction that children with reservations about themselves would probably not think of doing. Allen also mentions that this is the “same techniques you’d use to resist peer pressure over drugs or bullies or gangs.”

You are the precedent

Remember your own childhood and compare it to your own child’s time. “Forty years ago,” Lenore says, “the majority of U.S. children walked or biked to school. Today, about 10 percent do. Meantime, 70 percent of today’s moms say they played outside as kids. But only 31 percent of their kids do.”

Lenore’s Free-Range Kids movement seeks to ensure parents around the world that the world is a much safer place than the media — or we — make it out to be. But more importantly, it’s also about giving our children the childhood they deserve, full of play and none of the worry, just as we had when we were kids.

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She Thought I was abducting my own daughter..


Source: Mamamia.com

I arrived at our local cafe to meet my wife for our weekly session of cross-referencing our calendars. Our respective schedules can change quite drastically from one day to the next (one of the many exciting quirks of a life in the performing arts), so without these sessions our lives would very quickly descend into chaos. Near the top of the list of our biggest fears as parents is to be standing in the kitchen at about 4:30pm on a weekday shouting, “No, YOU were supposed to pick her up!” back and forth as we scramble for car keys and phones and the school’s office number and our self-respect.

With us on this particular morning is our darling three-year-old daughter. Our eldest was at school. On Mondays, there is a yoga class held opposite the cafe in a lovely, glass-fronted room that overlooks the sea. It’s a bit pretty. My three-year-old likes to peer into said room through the glass while the three or four women do their class. The yoga women think she’s adorable; she’s like their little yoga mascot. My wife and I finish our calendar session and say a fond farewell, safe in the knowledge that the next week is mapped out to within a nanosecond. She goes outside, gives our daughter a kiss and leaves. After a moment or two more I finish my coffee, make my way to the counter and pay while exchanging some pleasant small talk with the staff, some of whom babysit for us from time to time. We’re not regulars at this place. We’re part of the furniture.

I walk outside and go and squat beside my daughter who is still gawking at the yoga women, her nose squished against the glass. I tell her we have to go now. She asks if we can go to the park. I tell her that we’ll have to wait until it stops raining. She’s happy with that. So I proffer my hand, she takes it and we wander happily back to the car. We are just arriving at the car when I hear a female voice behind us, “Sweetie. Sweetie?”

I recognise the voice, although the slight quiver in it sounds odd.

I turn around to see a woman I recognise as the yoga instructor approaching us. She looks concerned. She is not looking at me at all. She is bending down and trying to get my daughter’s attention. “Sweetie, where’s your Mum? Where’s Mummy, sweetie?”

Oh dear. The penny drops quickly, like mercury. Oh dearie, dearie me.

I adopt my friendliest smile, “Oh, it’s ok. I’m her dad.”

By this stage I am helping my daughter into the car. The yoga instructor ignores me completely. She is wringing her hands and trying to manoeuvre herself between me and the car door. She speaks again to my daughter, this time with more urgency and insistence, her voice starting to crack, “Princess. Where’s mummy? Where’s your mummy, sweetie?”

Oh dear. At this point I am processing a litany of emotional responses, all of which are making me feel very queezy.  For the sake of the situation, I persist. “It’s ok. I really am her dad. You were chatting to my wife before. I’ll call her if you like. Or we could pop back into the café if you like. The girls in there know us really well.” I’m babbling.

The yoga instructor looks me in the eye for the first time. I smile again, trying way too hard to reassure her. She is visibly shaking. She is a small, middle-aged woman with blonde hair and a comfortable gray tracksuit. Her eyes dart back to my daughter, then to me again. She stumbles through her words like Snow White bolting through the forest, “I’m sorry it’s just we see her at our classes every week and we…we’re all very fond of her and… and I… I’ve never… I don’t, I mean I didn’t…”

“It’s ok,” I say again, starting to feel a bit shaky myself, “it’s great to know there are other eyes on her.”

It’s all I could think to say.

We stand there for a moment. My daughter is in her car seat now, slipping her arms into the straps and struggling with the clip that she can never do up. She looks up at me and barks an order in her inimitable way,

“Daddy, help!”

The yoga instructor’s shoulders slump a little and she exhales a quick, audible breath. I look at her and say, “It’s ok,” again. It’s sounding like a mantra now. The yoga instructor doesn’t know where to look. She is shaking her head quite fast and her eyebrows are raised and she is breathing quickly. She manages some words.

“Right. Sorry.”

“It’s ok, really.”

She looks at my daughter one more time and gives her a little wave. Then she turns away very quickly and walks at an awkward pace back towards her yoga class, rubbing her forehead. She is still shaking her head. She doesn’t look back. I know this because I watched her walk away until she was out of sight. I couldn’t move.

And now I’m sitting here writing it all down, and can’t help but think about the whole episode from the yoga instructor’s perspective: a little girl pressing her face against the glass and watching the yoga class, as she always does; the little girl’s mum saying hello and apologising for her daughter’s intrusive behaviour, as she always does; the mum leaving; the little girl smiling in on the women doing their yoga; a man approaching the little girl, squatting down and talking to her, then taking her by the hand and walking away with her.

And in the short time it took me to get to the car, this woman had decided that she must go after the little girl and make sure she’s alright. This small, middle-aged woman scuttled out of her yoga class – and that’s the other thing! Did the yoga class watch it all unfold in horror? Did they all question who I was and what was happening?

“Does anyone recognise him? Anyone?”

“No, I’ve never seen him with her.”

“I haven’t either.”

“Oh God.”

And she came right up to the man who measures six foot two and weighs 90 kilos and asked the little girl where her mummy was because she felt she had to; because they’re all very fond of this little girl who stares at them through the glass on Monday mornings. The yoga instructor in the comfortable tracksuit didn’t look the other way or let it slide or shake it off or just shrug and presume the best. She chose not only to assume the worst, she chose to do something about it.

On the drive home from the café I was angry. I felt ill. I was frowning and shaking my head and muttering profanities, most probably because I couldn’t shake the thought that somebody actually believed I might have been abducting a child. My child. But once I got home, and with the benefit of a sliver of hindsight, all I could think was, “What a champion.” And I said it out loud to myself. “What a champion.”

We are constantly informed of how much evil exists is in the world. We are bombarded withhorrendous stories of child abuse, abduction, murder; you name it. We get it from those who report fact and we get it from those who create fiction. I feel like we’ve never been made more aware of the capacity for people to be horrible creatures.

I can’t presume to know what motivated that yoga instructor to do what she did. Maybe her actions were fuelled by paranoia. Maybe she’s been convinced to believe that a man on his own taking a little girl’s hand has as much chance of being a paedophile as he does of being her father. Maybe it was just blind instinct. I don’t know. I don’t care. I choose to stand and applaud her, because I believe what she chose to do was the right thing; was good.

Next Monday I am going to walk into that yoga class with my daughter in tow and introduce myself properly to the small, middle-aged yoga instructor. I am going to offer her my genuine thanks. I will not accept any embarrassed apology she may offer, because she owes noone an apology, least of all me. And if it feels like it’d be ok, I will give her a hug. And then I will tell her that I think she is a champion.

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One key to ABP World Group`s successful recovery and re-unification of your loved one is to use all necessary means available

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NOTE: We are always available 24/7

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