A small girl rides her bike along a busy city street. She seems to be alone. Do her parents have great reason to worry about kidnappers? The nightly news might say yes but mathematics tells us no.
Big News is Rare News
How often does a stranger abduct a child under 18? Usually, stranger abductions happen about 100 times a year. That means that the ratio of kids kidnapped by strangers to the total number of children in the U.S. is 1:3,139,140. Meanwhile, 830,000 children, or about 1 in 39,000, die each year. Most of those children die as a result of accidents. So, a mathematically-minded parent would know that the girl on the bike is much more likely to be injured or killed by a motorist than to be kidnapped by a stranger. There’s another factor that contributes to the unlikeliness that a stranger will kidnap the child: most children abducted by strangers are between the ages of 12 and 17.
You can make a kidnapping even less likely if you follow basic safety rules. If you have a cell phone, keep it with you and turned on. Don’t get into cars with people you don’t know. Let a parent or a friend know where you’re going when you leave the house. If your destination changes, text someone to let them know. Finally, if anyone ever tries to grab you or force you to go somewhere, make a fuss. Scream, kick, fight, and attract a crowd. Stranger abductions hardly ever happen, and you can take steps to ensure they don’t happen to you or a loved one.
Take a look at what happens when the public is put to the test: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7dfkZKjWSo
Watch the videos below for more tips on how to prevent child abductions and an example of when bystanders intervened to stop a kidnapping.