Stranger danger – the case of April Jones

Its every parents worst nightmare. Your child being abducted, potentially assaulted and worse killed. The police have named the guy they are questioning in connection with her disappearance. That must mean a charge is imminent. They just need to hammer the guy for more information until he finally fesses up what he did with that poor little girl. I’m not going to make any wild guesses because it would be disrespectful to her family. Lets all hope for the best.

There have been so many high-profile cases of child abductions in the past two decades. Too many. This means as parents we need to be vigilant. Its awful to say this but when your child is out playing either at home or on holiday you have to consider the worst case scenario at all times now. For example, my daughter was playing in our rear garden. The garden backs onto a field, a disused area with an unofficial footpath running through it. We have a gate at the end for when we take the dogs for a walk. I was with my daughter when my phone rang. I went into the house to get it and then when I turned back to check she was still in the garden, I lost sight of her. My reaction was to default to the awful case of Sarah Payne who was abducted when she was playing in a field behind her grandparents house. I thought that my daughter may have gone into the field. Lots of children play out there and flit between each-others back gardens – but what if? As panic started to rise in my throat I quickly put the phone down and went out to the garden. She was in her wendy house playing and didn’t hear me calling. I then felt it necessary to warn her not to talk to anyone should they come to the gate at the bottom of the garden, even if they say they know Mummy and Daddy.

I was discussing this scenario with my work colleagues. It is very difficult to instil stranger danger in children so young. A policewoman visited my friend’s daughter’s primary school and discussed the importance of avoiding strangers if they approach you. At break-time she then changed into plain clothes and walked into the playground pretending to be someone else. She asked the children if they would like to come to her car and see her new puppy. All the children followed her to the car – they were so excited to see the puppy. See how easy it is to entice children away? What can parents do to protect their children in addition to keeping them under close supervision? No matter how closely you watch them it only takes a couple of minutes of distraction and they are gone. Just like in the horrific case of Jamie Bulger. His poor mother was in a shop talking to the assistant behind the counter, she glanced around and her toddler had gone. The security images show the sickening short space of time between Jamie walking off with the 2 older boys and his Mum rushing out of the shop desperately searching for him.

One of my friends even mentioned that it may be necessary to ‘chip’ your children like you do with dogs so that you can trace them. What has the world come to when we have to do this?

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef to protect children worldwide from famine, disease, war and persecution. If you are able to support my fundraising campaign please visit my Unicef page.

Thanks for reading. I hope when I come to do my next blog post April Jones will have been found.