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Attempted abductions uotside schools - risk?

(150 Posts)
Kenduskeag Thu 19-May-16 09:45:18

Another day, another attempted abduction outside a local school. This time, a man in a white van pulled up beside a 10 year old boy and tried to physically manhandle him into the vehicle. As the child kicked and shouted, a nearby gardener was alerted and the man was chased off. Police are, as ever, investigating.

But it seems there's one or two of these every week! Just scouring the local papers - Sep '15, a boy grabbed by the driver of a red Nissan, escaped. Dec '15, a boy grabbed by a man in a balaclava. A woman claiming to be a friend of a young boy's mother tried to coax him into a car: police are investigating. In Stockport in January, police had 6 reports in 10 days of men, and in one case a couple, trying to coax children into a car. 1st April, an attempt in Heywood, 12 year old girl. The Bolton schools shared a social media warning two or three weeks ago and a primary not far from here had a warning out also - two incidents, drivers with similar descriptions. That's just local. How many nationwide?

So what's going on? We very rarely (if ever, in the last few years?) see any news stories claiming a successful outside-school abduction. Does that mean they all (due to children fighting them off) fail? We don't see media reports of these drivers being caught, charged and trialled. There doesn't seem to be much media interest, beyond the usual warnings - no 'who are these people?' or 'Are these drivers all linked?' Could some be fraudulent - children late for school or home, quickly coming up with the old man-in-the-car chestnut, which explains the lack of media follow-up?

AIBU to think this needs some closer investigation? Is it on the increase or occurring at the same rate? I'm just not sure what to think. On the one hand I like to think of myself as sensible and able to sift through clickbait headlines and fearmongering in order to ascertain real risk, and the ol' 'man in the car who says he's a friend of your mum' routine seems like something long-forgotten from the 1980s. On the other, there does still seem to be a risk of people who don't seem to give a stuff how many people see them grabbing shouting children and who the papers would have us believe are rarely or never caught.

EatShitDerek Thu 19-May-16 09:46:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BertrandRussell Thu 19-May-16 09:52:46

A lot of them are urban myths. A lot of the remaining ones are family disputes. There may be some genuine cases obviously, but there is a chicken and egg thing going on, too. A case is reported to the police. The police have to take it seriously and issue a warning. Everybody then, quite reasonably, thinks it's a real risk because the police have issued a warning...........

And when it turns out to be a misunderstanding, or a hoax or whatever that bit never gets reported.

Voteforpedr0 Thu 19-May-16 09:53:03

It's terrifying and I think that as communities and parents we have a duty to look out for things like this happening. Cars we don't recognise hanging around and such, don't be afraid to mention to the school so they can check it out and hopefully with our eyes peeled can prevent this from happening. Scary stuff

bigboypants Thu 19-May-16 09:54:04

There have been a couple near me recently too. I suspect the lack of reaction might be because it's sometimes hard to know if something is actually going on or if it's just a shouty child and people don't want to risk getting an earful for sticking their nose in.

Ds yesterday refused to get into my car outside the shops, it was busy and he just kept shouting "No, I don't want to go with you!" and tried to run off, there were a few raised eyebrows but no one said or did anything. I always think I must look like a kidnapper.

Kenduskeag Thu 19-May-16 09:56:46

That typo is driving me nuts now. Sorry.

I do wonder about the urban myth thing - I mean, it sure seems a popular method for one so apparently unsuccessful. And why are so few caught when you've got two valuable bits of info - facial description and possibly even a car reg? The whole shebang doesn't seem to add up.

Jodie242 Thu 19-May-16 09:58:10

I live in rural South Wales, and even we had a notification from my sons primary school that a man in a white van had tried to entice one of the pupils inside before being chased off by a parent. Thankfully the school is quite vigilant, and the village is small, so if anything untoward happens then someone not only will see, but will usually intervene.

SpeckleDust Thu 19-May-16 10:00:00

I live in the area of Stockport where there was allegedly 6 incidents in a short space of time.

In reality, I think there was only one confirmed case of someone trying to get a boy into their car and the rest were a load of FB gossiping and mass hysteria. I remember reading that a male photography student who was taking pictures near where some schoolchildren were walking home was given a load of abuse by some parents and reported to the police.

Facebook has a lot to answer for creating an over-the-top reaction from the people who need to get a life are looking for a bit of drama to whip up in to a frenzy.

BaronessEllaSaturday Thu 19-May-16 10:02:58

When 2 of my dc were at secondary school we regularly got these warnings however in all the time that they were there my 2 never came across any supposed victims. No one ever seemed to know who these incidents had happened to only that they had supposedly happened.

lavenderdoilly Thu 19-May-16 10:03:39

Latest one appears neither made up or a "domestic dispute " (as if that is less frightening for a child). It is in my area. Not sure I can be sanguine about it.

Bolograph Thu 19-May-16 10:16:02

It's strange that men who abduct children only drive white vans, isn't it? I mean, never blue vans, or red hatchbacks, or yellow estate cars.

No one ever seemed to know who these incidents had happened to only that they had supposedly happened.


VagueIdeas Thu 19-May-16 10:18:37

I think most of the stories you see circulated around Facebook are urban myths. I also wonder whether local newspaper websites see these stories and report them as fact.

Has a child genuinely been abducted by a stranger with a van outside a school, ever?

BertrandRussell Thu 19-May-16 10:20:42

"Latest one appears neither made up or a "domestic dispute " (as if that is less frightening for a child). It is in my area. Not sure I can be sanguine about it."

It might be interesting to "unpick" this- if you're happy to do that? Why do you think it's genuine?

squizita Thu 19-May-16 10:31:01

We get the official warnings at work (ie not news hype) as PP say, quite a few are custody stuff sadly.

The FB stuff is also often a myth or even malicious. Ex wife round my way got caught when her friend bayed for mob justice on a 'stranger pedo' who was just her ex she wanted to get beaten up. Got a blurry photo, claimed he was lurking near the swings...

Actual abductions do happen but are (a) very rare and (b) no more common than in the past.
The news are more likely to report a photogenic white girl (fairytale victim, makes a good story) too, I'm afraid - when those at most risk are within other demographics/boys often. sad But it is very rare.

squizita Thu 19-May-16 10:32:54

(as if that is less frightening for a child)

I think the key issue is it does not increase danger to other children in the way a predator would.

Kenduskeag Thu 19-May-16 10:45:28

"Has a child genuinely been abducted by a stranger with a van outside a school, ever?"

Well, Millie Dowler sad And Sarah Payne, though not outside school. I think there was a case 3-4 years ago where a girl was abducted, driven around, assaulted then pushed out of the car, and the man was caught and jailed, which got media attention.

The one that triggered me posting, and is possibly the one lavender is referring to, is:

tinyterrors Thu 19-May-16 10:49:16

I think a lot are either urban myths perpetuated by Facebook or there's one genuine attempt to abduct a child and others want a share of the attention.

Having said that there have been two warnings from our school recently, one was a man in a blue car trying to entice a young girl to get in and the other was two men in balaclavas seen hanging around near the playground of the school up the road from ours, a few days after the second warning me and my friend saw a men in a balaclava hanging round our school playground near pick up time which we reported to school who notified the local pcso. It may have been an overreaction but given that it was hot weather at the time and similar reports had been made at the other schools in this area it made us very wary of just ignoring it.

BertrandRussell Thu 19-May-16 10:59:31

Neither Millie Dowler nor Sarah Payne were abducted by men in white vans outside their schools. So not really relevant to the discussion, unless I'm missing something?

Two children at a friend's child's school recently said that they had seen two men in balaclavas actually inside their school. Obviously the police came and cctv studied but there was no trace. The kids have stuck to the story- but unless the men dematerialized they are not telling the truth. Children do fantasize. And while obviously they have to be believed until there is evidence to the contrary, I think the initial report makes more news than the later explanation.

Lonecatwithkitten Thu 19-May-16 11:12:24

We have had an incident here recently the local police force sent an open letter to all parents via the schools advising what had happen, how and where and what they were doing about it.
If it is real I think you would have official confirmation.

lem73 Thu 19-May-16 11:19:56

Ever since my ds1 started school, I've heard periodic stories about a man in a white van trying to grab someone outside a school. I think it has become an urban legend but every time I hear it I use it as an opportunity to remind the kids to be vigilant and myself not to be lax about where I let them go.

Bolograph Thu 19-May-16 12:05:21

Well, Millie Dowler

Yeah, that's exactly relevant.

At 3:07pm on 21 March 2002, Dowler left Heathside School to go home on the train.[7] She got off at Walton-on-Thames railway station, one stop before her usual stop of Hersham, to visit a cafe with a friend. After telephoning her father at 3:47 pm to say she would be home in half an hour, she left on foot. She was last seen at 4:08 pm,[7] walking along Station Avenue, by a friend of her sister Gemma, who was waiting at a bus stop.[8]

Natsku Thu 19-May-16 12:25:59

Mostly urban legend and rare real incidents being repeated so many times with varying details as that's how rumours go so it seems like more happen. And many abductions are custody related (I technically abducted my DD once, from a health centre though not a school)

I don't worry about them anyway (well except the slim possibility of my ex trying to take DD) and that's even after having been through an incident that looked like an attempted abduction at first glance.

maz210 Thu 19-May-16 12:29:19

There have been a few attempts near where I live in West Kent lately. One involved a couple trying to entice a young secondary student into a car.

The incidents did the rounds on facebook but were definitely not urban myths - these were attempts that were made by strangers and were reported to the police.

We had a warning go round directly from the school within two hours of the incident involving the couple.

Bolograph Thu 19-May-16 12:35:41

The incidents did the rounds on facebook but were definitely not urban myths


AgentProvocateur Thu 19-May-16 12:51:45

It's mostly Facebook hysteria.

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