Missing Children Publication Hub

The publications in this section contain the results of our research as well as curated research on topics and issues relevant to missing children in Europe and the world. Example of the type of research you can find are understanding the causes of the different types of missing children cases in Europe, policy on missing children, search and rescue operations and family support. The menu and submenu options below will help you find what you're looking for.

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Missing Children Publication Hub

Criminal Abduction

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Beyond Stranger Danger (by Geoff Newiss)

Police in the UK record approximately 200 abductions and attempted abductions of children by strangers each year. However, surveys suggest that children experience strangers trying to lure them away far more frequently than police data indicates. 
Research by Parents and Abducted Children Together (PACT) finds that ‘stranger danger’ approaches to keeping children safe are still common place. Many parents talk to children about ‘stranger danger’, and in the aftermath of a local incident police and teachers sometimes run ‘stranger danger’ safety classes. 
This paper explores the main themes of ‘stranger danger’. Drawing on a comprehensive literature review and new primary data collection with police, teachers, parents and child safety practitioners, the paper highlights important limitations with the ‘stranger danger’ approach. Even older children can struggle to understand the difference between a stranger and a ‘non-stranger’. Stranger differentiation and safety rules (‘don’t talk, don’t take things from, don’t go with’ etc.) appear to achieve little in developing the right response in children confronted by an abduction scenario. 
The paper explores several implications. New child safety materials are needed. Teaching methods need to be developed to ensure children acquire abduction avoidance behaviours. New child safety strategies should focus on giving children disengagement skills and confidence, rather than increasing their fear of people who are not known to them.


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