School’s out, the much-anticipated seasonal holiday or long summer vacation is about to start, it’s a time for kids to relax and enjoy some well-deserved freedom and fun. Absolutely right. Yet parents need to be aware that these times of year are also when kids are the most at risk of kidnapping.
Season of Non-family Abductions
( Source: NISMART )
The National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children (NISMART) has made some interesting findings regarding child abductions:
- 45% were abducted on Friday or Saturday
- 53% of abductions happen between 3:30 pm and 10:00 pm
- 41% of abductions occurred in June, July and August
Stranger vs Family Abductions
Although parents cite it as one of their biggest fears, evidence shows that stranger (stereotypical) child abductions are extremely rare. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) 2016 report on missing children found that, of the 20,500 children reported missing that year, only 1% of cases involved non-family (stereotypical) abductions. By contrast, 6% of missing children had been the victim of family abductions.
Seasonal holidays bring increased risk
Seasonal holidays such as Christmas and Spring Break have consistently shown an increase in child abduction rates. These scheduled holidays on the school calendar are often a time when non-custodial parents or other family members have increased access to their children. Sadly some exploit this opportunity to take their children and not return them after their agreed visitation period. Sometimes the ‘season of goodwill’ can be used as a means to make one parent feel guilty and allow greater access, thereby giving a parent with ill intentions more opportunity to carry out an abduction. Thankfully, the winter months do see a drop in non-family abductions as children spend more time indoors with family.
Summer is the season for kidnappings
The summer months of June, July and August see the highest rate of both family and non-family abductions.
Whilst stranger kidnappings are rare, most are opportunistic crimes. They are often not planned to a great degree, but rather an opportunity to carry out the crime is seized by the perpetrator on the spur of the moment. When we take this fact into consideration, it is hardly surprising that the summer months bring increased risk to children.
As children leave the safety of their schools to spend carefree summers playing outside, visiting amusement parks, beaches and malls and staying out later, they are making themselves more accessible to would-be kidnappers. It is very important that parents are aware of where their children are and discuss the potential threat with their children. Of course we want our kids to continue to enjoy carefree summers and they should not be afraid to go outside. However, educating our children about the risks and how to stay safe can go a long way to prevent every parent’s worst nightmare from coming true. Take a look at What Kids Should Know About Kidnapping to help make your kids aware of the dangers.
The chances of being abducted by a stranger, even in the summer months, are thankfully extremely slim. Unfortunately these months also see a greater risk of parental and family abductions. Non-custodial parents are often given access to their children for extended periods of time during the summer and some use this opportunity to take their children and not return them to the parent who has custody. Often children are taken out of State or overseas, thus making the task of finding and returning the children harder for law enforcement.
Parents who are going through a breakup or custody battle should be aware of the increased risks, particularly if their (former) partner has ties to another country. Think carefully before allowing your children to travel abroad and be vigilant of any suspicious behavior.