Kidnapping for ransom is increasing at an alarming rate. Nobody seems to be safe anymore, be it children, youth or adults; alone or with a trusted escort. Children going to or returning from school are kidnapped. Young boys are kidnapped on the pretext of taking them to a party or just to a common friend’s place.
Changing lifestyle, desire for a luxuries, movie inspired or revenge, whatever be the reason of the kidnapping, everyone has to be very-very alert. It is no more limited to the sweet talking stranger offering sedative laced sweets. The criminals are now much more cunning and sophisticated.
Changing trends of kidnapping-
Age of the victim
The aim of the kidnappers is solely to get the money they need. Therefore age is no more a criteria for them. Earlier mostly children were the innocent targets of kidnappers. But now young college students too are kidnapped. Parents of grown up children too cannot rest in piece.
Background of kidnappers
Kidnappers are no longer habitual criminals or from the lower strata of the society who are in need of money. Most kidnappers now-a-days are first timers. They can be educated and from well-to-do families too.
Relatives and friends
This is the most worrying thing about the kidnappers. It is difficult to know the jackal in the disguise of sheep. We always teach our children, not to talk to strangers. This teaching is not very much helpful these days, as the kidnappers now are not strangers but known people. It may be people like drivers or domestic helps whom we do not suspect. They commit the crime with their accomplices, taking advantage of being known, to lure the unsuspecting victim.
In case of older college going students, it is more dangerous, as the kidnappers first become friends of the victim, before carrying out the crime. These kidnappers may even be known to the family of the kidnapped.
Even relatives/cousins commit the crime. When the person is known, people around too do not suspect, and so kidnapping becomes easy.
Mostly boys are the target of kidnappings for ransom.
As these days the kidnappers are mostly first time offenders, they tend to panic easily. When they find that they are getting trapped or feel that the captive may provide important clues about them to the police, they kill the captive to erase all witness.
Precautions to be safe-
Do not talk to strangers- Young children, from toddlers till the age of eight, who innocently talk to anyone who appears friendly, have to be reminded frequently not to talk to or accompany any stranger at all when they are away from their parents. They should not believe and go with any known or unknown person, unless they have been directly told to do so beforehand by the parents.
Teach children to judge people- Right from the age when children begin making friends in the neighborhood and at school, tell them from time to time what a good person/friend should be like. You may not know all the friends of your children. But listen carefully to all that children tell about the children they play with. Tell them who did something wrong and hence may not be a good person for friendship, and appreciate the ones who do good deeds and hence can be good friends.
Check the background of the friends- As far as possible try to know the family background of the friends, as well as the type of people this friend prefers to be with.
Set a routine- Fix a routine and set strict rules for the children to follow the routine. School, tuitions, play, gym, friend’s place, wherever they go, they must return home before a fixed time daily. If they do not return at the usual time, check the matter immediately.
Habit of informing parents- Children must develop the habit of informing the parents in case of any delay, or when they are going to a place other than the usual place known to their parents.
Contact numbers- Keep the contact numbers of all the close friends (even cousins) of the children.
Beware of unusual behavior- Young boys and girls should become alert if they notice some unusual behavior of some friend or any other known or unknown person around them.
Few friends- Children should maintain only a few real close friends, about whose family you know well. People outside this circle should not be trusted for a close friendship. Take time to develop any friendship.
Learn self defense- Karate, Taekwondo etc. help develop self confidence and are handy in case of any unforeseen attack on one’s safety.
Avoid flaunting your wealth- This obviously catches the attention of the miscreants. It is always safer to lead a simple lifestyle, than to show-off and invite trouble.
As parents we can never let our guards down, even when the children reach a certain age. Independent, free, luxurious life is attractive, but it is dangerous too. It is better to be safe by following certain precautions, than invite danger and be sorry.