Friday, December 18, 2015

Case Studies - "lures"

We've been going through old files and piles of stuff here at MCM, and it has been quite a journey for all of us.

Of course, Carol Watson is very familiar with all of these old stories and old documents. She's the only person who has been part of MCM from the beginning.

We came across a couple of case studies that demonstrate the importance of teaching kids to recognize "lures". "Lures" are deceptive behaviors, or attractive objects used to entice someone into danger. Whether you are talking about fish or children, or adults, the primary thing that makes a lure successful is that it appears attractive, and does not seem dangerous at first.

JAMES: an example of the "help lure" (this story was shared as part of a 1996 fund raising letter)

4-year-old James had attended a "Run, Yell & Tell!" presentation in his day care. One afternoon as he played in his front yard, a car pulled up. A nice looking man leaned out the window and asked him "Hey, could you help me for a minute?"

James was about to approach the car when he remembered what he has learned at the "Run, Yell & Tell!"  presentation: "Always ask first" before you help someone. He ran inside to ask his babysitter. When he and his babysitter returned, the car and the man were gone.

James may have prevented his own abduction by remembering what he had learned about prevention from Missing Children Minnesota.

SUSAN: an example of the lure of "understanding" and "support".

16-year-old Susan ran away from her father's home in search of a modeling career. What she found instead was an older man who took her in and treated her kindly. Eventually, the man began to sexually abuse Susan and threatened the girl when she tried to leave.

Susan was trapped.

Her father called Missing Children Minnesota soon after she left. He was frantic and very worried about his daughter. MCM checked around and soon began to hear rumors of sightings of Susan and the older man. Eventually, a "sting" was set up and Susan and the man were caught. Susan returned home with her father. The man was charged with sexual abuse.

The takeaway:

We need to remind very young children to "Always ask first" before they accept anything from someone, go anywhere with someone, or help someone with anything. If a person other than the person who is taking care of them at that time approaches them for any reason, they should "ask first!" before engaging.

Older children need to be reminded to "check in" with the person in charge whenever their plans change, or if something doesn't go as planned, or if something doesn't seem quite right.

And, of course, we need to always remember to keep our "trusted adult" hat firmly in place and be alert to difficulties, frustrations, or dangers that our children are encountering. If we don't help and guide them, there are others out there who will use their understanding of our kids needs to exploit them and violate their trust.

It is a big job, and it can be scary with so much at stake. However, remember that all you really have to do is listen, be present, be supportive. You don't have to have all the answers, you don't have to do everything right. You just have to show the kids in your life that they are important, and that you will be there to help them reach their goals and deal with their problems.