The news this week has not been good. Along with countless others, I’ve spent a lot of this week refreshing my news app on the phone to see if little April Jones had been found yet. Sadly, she’s not been able to find her way home to her parents, and even more sadly, there has been criticism levelled at the family for allowing April to play outside at 7 pm.
Let’s put this into perspective. The family live in a small community surrounded by open countryside, and where everyone knows everyone else. The kind of community that I grew up in.
I wouldn’t let my children out to play late where we live, but I did growing up, and in a community like the Jones live in, I would have happily let my kids out the front at 7 pm. This is key. April was outside, beside her home, and picked up by someone she must have trusted. What difference does the time make?
And pushing the criticism further away, we are really against it when we realise we have to protect our kids from people they know and trust. I read a blog post yesterday, kindly sent along by Claire Jessiman, The Foodie Quine, that really tells it like it is. Checklist Mommy from the US, talks about “Tricky People.”
She says “Tricky People are the New Strangers.” I really would recommend that everyone who feels the slightest bit anxious about abductions and child abuse to go and read it. It’s also quite light hearted for such a serious topic, which is rather endearing.
In reality, the people who groom kids tend not to be strangers in the eyes of the young. Checklist Mommy does the same thing that I do. She tells her kids to go to the nearest Mum with kids for help if they get lost, or something goes wrong. It’s not actually very likely that they’re going to come across a policeman when they need it. I’ve told my kids that for a long time, as it seems to be the path of least danger in my eyes.
Checklist Mommy goes further. She talks about Patti Fitzgerald of Safely Ever After. A passionate woman with a vision that we all do need to listen to.
Realistically, our kids have a higher chance of being abused by someone they know than being abducted by a stranger. The shock and horror when children like April Jones are plucked from the bosom of their loving family can cause us to react badly when we consider our own choices in how to approach our chats with our kids.
One of the things she says, that struck a chord with me was that nobody is going to offer to babysit for free so we can spend time to ourselves. It really is telling that people don’t want to babysit for the good our own health.
Being suspicious of every adult around our kids is probably a healthy way to go, but we do have to balance that with being sensible. Looking out for oddly given gifts and special treatment is just good parenting. If the warning signs are making you uneasy, it’s perhaps time to make a difference.
The red flags and warning tips at Safety Ever After are really good advice. We could do with a little of that kind of advice coming through our schools. Sadly, we only seem to have stranger danger alerts. How much are our kids missing about the dangers that exist for them, how will they learn that they have to take precautions with ALL adults, and not just strangers?
At the end of this all, social media is powerful. An abducted child has a high chance of being killed within the first three hours of the abduction. It was about three hours between April being abducted and the first social media appeals for help. Lost Kidz is a personal Amber Alert system. It means that the news of an abduction can get out quicker, and share the information with people who can begin to watch out for unusual signs in the area.
I’ve had the odd heart pounding moment when I’ve lost sight of a toddler, but how that feels when the child does not come back after a few minutes, I have no idea. I do know that many children up and down our country this week will have been hugged tighter at bedtime.
The Lost Kiza website says:
“The Lost Kidz App has been developed to enable parents to send out an alert to other parents in the area if their child goes missing. The alert includes a current photo and any relevant information about the child, allowing an anxious parent to recruit the help of everyone in the vicinity to reunite the parent with their child.”
I have downloaded the app. I think this could be a powerful social media intervention. I like the fact that it has a four star rating already. I like the fact that a lost child can be reported quickly, and the word spread.
Jersey based Stephen Fern created the app after watching a TV documentary about the abduction of Jaycee Lee Delgado – its created big waves across America, and is spreading across the world. Eyes immediately looking out for a child in danger.
I’ll continue to refresh my news screen, and hope that April and her family are re-united again. It’s been a hard week for all parents to cope with the raw fear of abduction, but for April’s parents, this must be a living, walking nightmare.
Best wishes to April and I hope she finds her way home soon.
31 thoughts on “Child Abduction, Fear and Abuse. Help find April Jones.”
Thanks for this thought-provoking post. I used to play out on the street when I was a kid but I wonder if I will ever let my son (now 6) do the same. The danger is from people kids know which makes you suddenly fear playdates, kids clubs everything. It’s hard to put things into perspective cos even a tiny risk factor is so terrifying.
The fastest response with public announcements to this latest tragic event came on Facebook and twitter….within a couple of hours. Same information, completely open access, but it got people out looking. Lost Kidz is even faster. We ARE using social media more readily, lost Kidz communities do it faster, better localised, and traceable.
I like the idea.
Only registered users can get alerts using lost Kidz, which means that apple have a record of their iTunes account ( bank or credit card details) and an email address. When an alert goes off, the app has a record of every phone that it went to, and the information can be shared by the authorities if the situation goes bad. If someone was seeking a victim, having the app on their phone would be like waving a flag saying ” I’m here, come get me”. There will always be a trail back…
If an alert goes off, there may be hundreds of people nearby who will also have received the alert, all in a heightened state of awareness, looking for the same child, and also looking for suspicious activity. Abusers get away with it because no one else around them knows what’s going on… Lost Kidz communities can put an end to their anonymity.
If a potential abuser is close enough to receive the alert, your missing child is ALREADY at risk…. Without the app, it’s just you and him(probably) looking, surrounded by hundreds of good people who are totally oblivious to the tragedy being played out amongst them.
Thank you Darren, I think your comments are very helpful. The predator worry is a big one for people to get past in using something to notify others that children are lost.
In order to prevent this horrible tragedy from affecting your family, there are certain techniques you can teach your child to help her avoid being abducted in the first place or, if taken, to escape from her captors.
There are techniques, but hard when children are very young though.
An excellent post, highlighting something that is on every parent’s mind right now. We do all go on about stranger danger but what if it’s someone they know. It’s heartbreaking and horrific any parent should go through this. My heart goes out to them. x
Thanks Susan, The stranger danger is what we’ve all been taught, but although it’s a risk, the higher danger tends to get ignored.
This is a sad situation all round. Along with so many others, I keep hoping that the news will update us and find her. Thank you for information on the app. I will have a look at that.
I think it’s worth having, even if just to help another child in trouble.
a well written post that I am happy to share. a lot of useful information in it, well worth a read.
Thank you for the lovely comment. I hope it does help a bit. It helped me writing it.
I hope that they will find this little young lady un harmed and well. My heart goes out to the family members in this dark time. The good news (if there can ever be good news in a situation like this) is that there has not been a body found so there is even now a glimmer of hope in finding her
I hope so too. I think there are millions out there who are wishing hard for her to be found.
Thank you for this.
Thank you for a well written and levelling post on this. The panic situations like this can leave us with is hard to live with. My heart goes out to Aprils family.
Thank you very much for the lovely comment. I think panic makes us irrational, myself included.
Very informative post 🙂 thankyou. Its news of this when it happens you forget how cruel society can be. Lets hope she is found. (Also believe that it does not have to be strangers for it to happen, your right! remember Tia Sharp, Holly and Jessica…….)
Yes, people our kids know seem to be the biggest danger. Thanks for commenting.
Has been running for about 3years and sends alerts directly to those registered on site. http://www.SocialAlertMe.com
Thanks, I will take a look.
Hi, good blog with lots of interesting points of view. I too have been considering LostKidz, but the only thing holding me back is the thought that as well as alerting other caring people around about me that my child is missing, I could also be alerting other unsavoury characters and making things easier for them if they are on the prowl, or opportunists. Certainly worthy of debate I you think? I would love to live in a world where this did not need to be a consideration.
Jaycee Lee Dugard was the girl who was kidnapped and turned up almost 18 years later.
The thing about the app, is that you don’t have to add your childrens details. You can have it to be alerted if a child goes missing in your local area. And if any of our kids does go missing, and we know or suspect has been abducted, we can put an alert out across the world in a matter of minutes, so that people also know.
If I lost my child in a supermarket, I doubt I would put out an alert for that, as they are likely to turn up in a few minutes or so, but if I was at the stage of police being called, and no sign in the immediate vicinity, reports of getting into a car with someone, I would seriously be thinking about it. Information in the public eye is a powerful thing. People are inherently good, but the bad get much more press than the good do.
It’s also for me, the ability to keep a lookout if someone else’s child goes missing, and I can match the child to a picture, and also know if the person with them is not the parent. I think that’s a powerful tool to have in our mobile phones.
Each looking out for our own. Yes, there may be people downloading the app to see if a child is missing in their local area, but in most cases, by the time an alert is sent out, it’s going to be serious.
I do agree and having been spurred on to find out more I came across this which helps to alleviate the predator question somewhat.
Hope it helps others who may have some questions. Thanks for the review.
You’re welcome, it’s a tricky subject.
Spread the news about Lost-Kidz-App. Like and share on facebook. Tell everyone you know. Look at the website. lostkidz.com
I agree, it really is worth having.
You are spot on in terms of where the risk comes from: we talk about stranger danger -but as you state, people who our children know are a far greater risk..and that is what makes this such a hugely difficult issue to deal with. As with everything in life, we have to balance risk and benefit. If we didn’t, we would never travel by car, let alone leave our children with ‘close family’ – just in case. Having lost my first child (I now have 6) I know that fate can deal us the cruelist of blows and those events change our lives forever. I still cannot walk out of the hospital lift without fighting back the tears because it sparks such vivid memories of leaving the hospital without my child – but I dont live in fear for my children. If anything I have become quite sanguine about risk – a kind of what will be will be.
ps The Lost Kidz App isnt a US creation – I created it (I live in Jersey) after watching a TV documentary about the abduction of Jaycee Lee Delgado – its just creating big waves across America!
Hi Stephen, I’ll change that in the blog post. I think it’s a great app. Not knowing how to manage the risk seems to be the biggest problem that I have. Being able to take charge and teach our kids that all adults are a risk, without putting them under stress and fearful of their shadow is so hard to do.