Stranger danger: Part 1

writer Ash Thomas, Editor in Chief

Tips to keep safe from abduction

*This blog won a second place Individual Achievement Award from UIL’s Interscholastic League Press Conference.

The scariest thing about kidnapping is that it never stops, it’s a never ending offense. Unlike the more frequent types of kidnapping, family-related and non-family (which is when the victim knows the abductor), the one popularized by Hollywood is called “stereotypical kidnapping”, defined as those in which a victim is kept overnight, transported at least 50 miles, and held for ransom or intended to be kept permanently or killed.

This isn’t the most frequent type of kidnapping but it is the most known in the eyes of viewers of movies, TV shows and books as the situation is almost always completely in the hands of the abductor themselves. According to CNN, only about 60 percent of these kidnappings result in a happy ending.

Recently, two teens by the names of Aaron Arias, 19, and Jamal Harris, 17, rescued a woman from the backseat of a car, while she was being kidnapped in downtown Dallas. Unfortunately, not everyone has their own superheroes like the ones this woman found in the form of two teenage boys.

So what do you do? Anyone can be kidnapped and most abductors are doing it successfully in a way so that they won’t get caught. It can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime. Here are at least a few things you can do to try to prepare and protect yourself, before, during and after.


Before: The beginning.

                As stated before, matters like this aren’t really in your hands. However, you can attempt to keep yourself a little safer by following common safety tips. There’s a reason these tips exist.

  1. Be aware of your surroundings

For some reason, a lot of people tend to think that if they’re walking alone at night (or any time, really) that it’s a good idea to emerge themselves in their phone or headphones. I had always thought that if I was on my phone and someone wanted to abduct me they’d be stopped by the fact that I would have easier access to 911. That’s one of the stupidest things I’ve ever thought. When a kidnapper is looking for a time and person to abduct, they’re looking for someone who is distracted, not paying attention, alone, and vulnerable looking. That equals on their phone.

  1. There’s no such thing as “overreacting” when it comes to your gut. Take action.

If you’re walking alone and you feel like someone’s following you, get help. If your car is in the parking garage and you’re not sure that you feel comfortable with going out alone (thanks, Hollywood) have someone come out with you. Fact: most kidnappings happen within 10 miles of your home. When someone is kidnapped, chances are they weren’t randomly picked out of a crowd 10 minutes before the act itself. Kidnappings have been well thought out and planned for what some experts say could be up to a few months. Follow your gut and intuition. Even little changes can make the difference. If you feel like you might be being stalked, change your routes.

  1. Always be prepared.

A lot of people carry things in their bags like pepper spray or accessible keys. This is a good idea in any case since you always want to be safe, but it could be the game changer in an abduction or attack situation. Sometimes, if you’re being abducted by several people who are armed and already have a plan, the best thing you could do is be cooperative. But, if the abductor is alone, unarmed, or is only planning a quick attack, it’s always good to try to get away. Know when to fight back.