How To Kidnap-Proof Your Child

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Nearly 60-thousand children will be abducted this year alone, according to the Center for Missing and Exploited Children. You can't guard them every minute, but there are ways to make your child more kidnap-proof.

And The Early Show correspondent Tracy Smith reports that a program called radKIDS is helping to educate kids about preventing kidnappings. It's an offshoot of RAD, or Rape Aggression Defense, which was designed for women. And it teaches kids to punch and kick their way out of an attacker's hands. It's no guarantee that they'll escape the bad guys. But it may at least give them a fighting chance.

It's almost too horrible to think about: A child gone missing, kidnapped and abused, or worse.

Some cases are unforgettably painful: Carlie Brucia was led away in broad daylight, her abduction captured on tape. Samantha Runion was taken as she rode her bike, leaving only a mother in agony.

In both cases, the families' worst fears came true.

And a kid can get abducted just about anywhere. Nine-year-old Candy McBride was walking home from school when she was attacked just a few feet from her front door.

McBride was grabbed by a man twice her size, but she lived to tell about it.

She says, "This guy came up behind me. He grabbed my arms, so I did my radKIDS. I kicked him, and then, I elbowed him, and I hit him on the chin."

The radKIDS she is talking aobut is a program to teach kids how to avoid, or escape, the unthinkable.

Former police officer Steve Daly is one of radKIDS' founders. He says, "Many children who are going to get attacked or grabbed are yelling: 'Help me, help me.' And what they're saying inside their own head is: 'Someone help me.' Whereas a radKid's mindset after their training is: How dare you touch me!"

That training starts young. But keeping first and second graders' attention isn't a problem.

Besides fighting off an attacker, kids get practice in running away and calling for help. Every move is practiced until it becomes second nature.

RadKIDS reports that in the past five years, 50-thousand kids have been trained, and 23 abductions have been foiled. That kind of success has gotten the attention, and support, of someone who knows about the subject: Ed Smart, whose daughter Elizabeth was kidnapped in 2002.

"You cannot be ignorant," Ed Smart says. "You cannot be naiive, and you have to prepare your children."

He doesn't want other parents to go through the nightmare he and his family experienced.

He says, "The day that Elizabeth came home was such a wonderful day for us. But I felt so strongly for all the parents out there that do not have the ending we have. And I just think if there's a way of helping to prevent that situation, then you should do it. I really feel that radKIDS can make a difference."

In an actual abduction, it's impossible to say for sure whether the training would help. But the kids correspondent Smith talked with all believe it would.

In McBride's case, using her radKIDS moves to elbow and kick her assailant definitely did the trick.

A police officer explained that the reason was, "She was able to get the hand down from her mouth, screamed help me! This isn't my parent!' Kicked the person's chin and also tried to hit the person in the chin and neck area."

And what did he do?

"He ran," McBride says.

Her description led police to arrest Jimmy Guard, who is now awaiting trial.

Charlotte Car, McBride's mother, says she allows herself to think about what could have happened if her daughter didn't have the radKIDS training and, "I thank God. I'm lucky."

Steve Daly notes, "A small child can't knock down and knock out a big man, but they can distract them and get away. And the whole context of that encounter has changed now, putting power in the child's hands instead of the predator."

And that sense of confidence that children take away from radKIDS training, can make all the difference.

"Before I learned radKIDS I already knew how to kick butt," McBride says. "But now I know how to kick butt more."
  • Tatiana Morales

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