MOBERLY - Two separate attempted kidnappings in Jefferson City and Fulton this week caused concern among thousands of parents in mid-Missouri.
“The chances of it happening are still relatively low. We don’t train and prepare on the frequency,” Keep Them S.A.F.E. Founder Nick Spencer said. “We train on the impact that it’s going to have on their community and their family.”
Spencer founded Keep Them S.A.F.E. in 2014, after the abduction, rape and murder of 10-year-old Missouri girl. The program’s mission is to educate, equip and empower children to prevail during an abduction.
Moberly parents and police officers attended a training session Thursday to learn how to properly teach children how to prevent and escape an attempted abduction.
“You can’t choose to not be a victim, but you can choose to not be a helpless victim. We don’t count on them just surviving, we want them to win these situations,” Spencer said.
According to the Office of Juvenile Justice, 58,000 children are abducted annually. Of these abductions, 69 percent of attackers use a non-threatening approach to coerce the children.
By using this method, Spencer said children aren’t so quick to consider that person a stranger.
Keep Them S.A.F.E’s definition of a stranger is anyone a parent or guardian has not given you permission to leave or be with. That way, children have a more concrete definition of a stranger.
Lorri Apel attended the training to help inform children in her local church.
“The problem I have is getting students to trust me because I have so many roles in the church, I’m like a stranger to them,” Apel said. “They don’t always know what I’m there to do.”
The children’s class is designed for kids ages 5-14. They last for four hours, and teach kids how to keep S.A.F.E. - Scan, Avoid, Fight and Escape - from potential attackers.
“When seconds matter, police are only minutes away,” Spencer said. “We pray that no kid ever uses this training, but we have to be proactive in our training and awareness.”