What Parents Need to Know after Fort Worth Child Abduction
The abduction of an 8-year-old Fort Worth girl is the kind of news that rocks a community.
The child has since been located and the man accused of kidnapping her is in custody. But many parents are left wondering what if this happened to them and how they should talk to their children about the abduction.
As for the ‘what ifs,’ the child psychologists from Cook Children’s we spoke to encouraged parents to avoid them. What ifs are only going to further increase anxiety in both parents and children.
“We know that abductions/kidnappings are very rare, and random/nonfamily kidnappings (or kidnappings involving someone unknown to the child), are even rarer. As such, what happened this weekend is extremely rare, uncommon, and children and parents need to be assured of that,” said Joy Crabtree, Psy.D., a licensed psychologist and clinic manager for Cook Children’s Southlake Urgent Care and Pediatric Specialties and Hurst Urgent Care Psychology Clinics.
In 2018, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children assisted law enforcement and families with more than 25,000 cases of missing children. Less than 1% of those cases were nonfamily abductions.
If the child is aware of the situation, then parents can use this to again build reassurance and talk about safety. For younger children who are unaware of the situation, then it’s not necessary to discuss the event as it could lead to anxious thoughts and behaviors (separation anxiety, difficulty sleeping, school refusal, constant worrying about their sense of safety).
Parents should be prepared for their children to hear about the events through friends, school, social media and other informational outlets while away from their homes today.
But as is so often the case, the team said look to the wise words of Mr. Rogers: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'"
That was once again the case following the abduction of this child. The community bonded together to support one another. Two local men are being hailed as heroes for describing the car suspected in the kidnapping at a motel in Forest Hill.
“Parents also need to realize that children take their cues on how to respond to situations by how their parent responds,” Crabtree said. “So stay calm, provide reassurance, and point to the positives that came out of this situation. Yes, in rare situations, unfortunate things happen, but also, very often, there are good people that stand up and come to the aid of others as well.”