The typical child-abduction-attempt victim is a teenage girl on her way to or from school, says a new study from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children reported by USA Today. The group examined 403 attempted but unsuccessful kidnappings by strangers or slight acquaintances that were reported by police or news media in 45 states from February 2005 to July 2006. It was conducted to learn how such attempts are thwarted.
Six in 10 victims fought back and escaped. Three in 10 ran away before any physical contact, and about 10 percent were saved when an adult nearby intervened. Says center president Ernie Allen: “These guys don’t do it just once. An attempt is likely to be followed by another and another until they’re successful.” That’s why he wants parents to report incidents to police. David Finkelhor of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire found 115 “stereotypical kidnappings” in 1999, ones in which children were abducted by strangers or barely known acquaintances, taken more than 50 miles, detained at least overnight or held for ransom. Half were sexually assaulted, and 40 percent were killed. Finkelhor says kids should be wary of strangers, but they face greater risk of problems from other kids, family members, or acquaintances.