An 11-year-old girl was walking through a park in Arizona on Wednesday when a white SUV pulled up next to her and a friend.
A man got out of the car and told the girl her brothers had been in a serious accident, and that she was required to get into the car and leave with him. She asked the man for the “code word”, which was a prearranged word that her and her parents had come up with in the event that someone else needed to pick her up.
After not knowing the word, the man got back into his car and drove away.
“Kudos to the parents of this child for having a code word and talking to their children about stranger danger,” Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb said.
“We hope by putting this out, it will encourage parents to have that conversation and create a plan with their children, so they know what to do if they are in that situation.”
The “safe word” or “password” is also backed up by The Morcombe Foundation.
In 2003, Daniel Morcombe was innocently waiting for a bus under the Kiel Mountain Road overpass in the Woombye district of the Sunshine Coast. The 13-year-old tragically never came home.
The Morcombes have worked tirelessly ever since his abduction and subsequent death to raise awareness about child abduction and how to avoid it, and hope that their devastating experience will help raise awareness about abduction.
The following are some tips The Morcombe Foundation advise to keep your child safe from abduction:
1. When you can, stay with a friend. Even if you have a fight with your mate, don’t go off alone.
2. Be observant. Notice who’s around you and what they’re doing.
3. Have a family password. Something like your favourite food – lasagne, for example. If a person says they are meant to pick you up, test them on the password.
4. With your parents, make a list of 5 adults you trust. If you ever feel uneasy about anybody or anything, tell one of these people and know you won’t get into trouble. If you feel you’re not being listened to, try someone else.
5. Don’t share information about yourself, like your hobbies or the name of your school with people you don’t know, online or in real life.
It’s every parent’s nightmare, but preventative strategies could protect your family.