While doing a paper filing project I watched/listened to the July 11, 2008 Dr. Phil show about child abductions. The show focused entirely on young children abducted from their schools. In all cases despite the schools having policies and protocols in place regarding who can pick children up, the students on the show were abducted by strangers at school. In each case school employees chose to not follow school procedures and school rules and let the children leave the school with the adult abductor.
The worst part in my opinion was one story where a paraprofessional (aka teacher’s aide) released a child to a man without following the school’s protocol. Dr. Phil asked the school staff why she still had her job there and they said she is a good employee with 20 years of experience. The staff were praising her over and over! Whatever happened to sometimes one strike and you are out as sometimes happens when working in the private sector?
In one case the child was abducted and the school did not tell the parents until after the child was returned to the school. The police were not phoned until after. It took the parents two days to get the full story out of the school administration, the parents said. The parents said the staff was not even telling them everything and they pressed and pressed for more information.
In another story the girl was abducted and taken away in a car. She still refuses to speak about what happened in the car and cries about it. Dr. Phil offered the girl and family free counseling to help unravel this and to help heal the child. The girl had regressed in her behavior, and become fearful of all strangers and was afraid to leave her mother.
These stories broke my heart. There is no reason at all that simple safety protocols which were in place were ignored by staff and the children were taken right from school.
In one story the parents of the accused abductor shared that this man is not the son they know and said he has two mental health diagnoses and is acting totally different than he used to. That brings up ethical questions about justice and our criminal justice system that are not easy to think about or find good solutions to.
Here is a link to the episode titled “Abducted From School”. There is video footage there and some show notes also.
Dr. Phil has a webpage about how parents can help prepare their children ahead of time so they do not become victims of abduction.
I highly recommend that all parents read the book “Protecting the Gift” by Gavin de Becker. I blogged a bit about this great book in this blog post of mine from March 2006.
I’m putting this on my list of another reason I’m happy my kids are not in school.
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