This is cross posted from my blog, which I posted this a while ago -- I think it relates to this topic of strangers vs. parents. Citations are available upon request.
A couple of years ago (2002), we had an "epidemic" in this country. It was quickly labeled by the media as "The Summer of Abductions." From watching the news, one got the impression that kids were being snatched constantly and that nowhere was safe for children anymore. There's just one problem with that. The child-abduction rate in 2002 was at an all-time low. That's right, the "summer of abductions" actually had less abductions than in previous years. The simple fact is that the media blew everything way out of proportion to hike up ratings. The media in this country knows full well that any story involving children in peril will get instant attention.
Everyone knows how dangerous it is for kids out in the world, right? Everyone knows that strangers can't be trusted, right? This is so sad. It's sad because what "everyone knows" is wrong. According to all the recorded facts and statistics, it seems that children are actually safer with strangers than they are with their own parents! Let's take a look at some of the facts:
According to the U.S. Dept. of Justice statistics on violent crimes (1973 - 2002), the rate of kidnappings perpetrated by strangers is 0.0017 percent for every 1,000 children. In real-world numbers, this means that out of every 1,000 children who get kidnapped, only 1 or 2 of them are taken by strangers.
According to another study done by the U.S. Dept. of Justice, of the roughly 69,000 kidnappings that occurred in 1999 only 115 of them were abductions by strangers.
But wait, there's more!
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, in the year 2000, the following occurred:
• 255 children died from flu or pnumonia.
• 452 children died from heart disease
• 1,921 children committed suicide
• 11,560 children died from accidental injuries
So, what does all that mean in relation to the topic at hand? Let me break it down for you. When compared to the actual statistics for stranger abductions, a little simple math shows us.
• Children are twice as likely to die of the flu than be kidnapped by a stranger
• Children are 4 times more likely to die of heart disease than be kidnapped by a stranger
• Children are 17 times more likely to commit suicide than be kidnapped by a stranger
• Children are 100 times more likely to die because of an accidental death than be kidnapped by a stranger
Let's compare the odds of getting abducted by a stranger to some other things.
The odds of dying in a plane crash are 1 in 310,000. The odds of being abducted by a stranger? 1 in 610,000. The odds of being struck by lightening are 1 in 240,000. A child is 2 and a half times more likely to get hit by lightening than to get taken by a stranger. But, when was the last time the news made a big deal out of child getting struck dead by lightening? Apparently, it happens more than twice as often, yet we never hear about it. Hmmm.. I wonder why.
Now, at this point you may be asking yourself a question: If strangers aren't the ones snatching children in the middle of the night, then who else could be doing it? For that, let's look at some more dry boring statistics.
Of those 69,000 abductions that occurred in 1999, about 82 percent of them were perpetrated by family members and 11.3 percent by friends of the family (or other adults that the child knew well).
It seems that the strangers aren't the real danger after all. It's looking pretty clear to me that the real danger to children comes from within the walls of their own homes, not from any mysterious sicko on the outside. Children are in the most danger from the own families. I'm not exactly shocked by this revelation. I only wish the media had the guts to tell the truth for once so that other people could see the light too.
Don't think that this only applies to kidnapping cases. Oh no, strangers are also notorious for molesting kids too. Everybody knows that you can't just trust a stranger with your child. Oh really?
According to yet another report from the Dept. of Justice, of the sexual offenses committed against children in 2000, 34.2% of the perpetrators were family members and 58.7% were friends of the family (or other adults the children knew well). In the age range for sex-related crime victims of 6 to 11 year olds, only 4.7% of their molesters were strangers and in the age range of 0 to 5 years of age, only 3.1% of the perpetrators were strangers.
Nope, I'm not finished yet...
In a report compiled by Child Help USA it was discovered that the leading types of child abuse in the United States for the year 2001 were neglect (which makes up about 59% of child abuse) and physical abuse (which make up 19% of abuse to kids). The most disgusting thing that can be learned from this report has to be the fact that 81% of abusers were the child's parents!
The fact that more people don't know about this is pathetic! Thanks to our wonderful media (heavy on the sarcasm there), most Americans have this delusional image that children aren't safe from strangers anywhere and that all those poor parents must be so worried, etc, etc. The fact of the matter is that all those "poor parents" out there are the ones abusing their kids in the first place!
This "stranger danger" stuff has got to stop! Our children are hurt by it and they suffer more with each passing day because of it! The general public must learn that parents and other family members are the ones doing most of the abuse. There is no tangible danger from the average unknown person (stranger). The facts show that most strangers wouldn't hurt your child, but rather, it is your child's other relatives as well as any adult friends he/she may have that are the most danger to them. Well, actually, it's you the parent who are the most danger to them, but I assume that if you're reading this and you abuse your kids then you already know that you're the one hurting them and not any strangers, so I hardly need to point that out.
Educate people. Make sure that everyone knows these astonishing (and well-hidden) facts. Get the word out there and maybe it can make a difference!