Kidnapping is a situation no one can predict, yet it can happen anywhere. With New Hampshire ranked as the safest place to live for three consecutive years, according to the Daily Finance website, the kidnapping and nine month long confinement of a then fourteen-year-old Abby Hernandez came as a shock to residents of the granite state. New Hampshire News Station WMUR reports that Abby Hernandez went missing on October 9th, 2013 shortly after leaving Kennet High School, and was released on July 20th, 2014. Hernandez is currently at home with her family. To the relief of the greater public, Nathaniel Kibby (34) was arrested in connection with the kidnapping of Abby Hernandez thanks to information Hernandez was able to provide police about her kidnapping. While the details of this story are still being pieced together by law enforcement officials, we will examine what classifies as a kidnapping, how parents can keep their kids safe, and what to do if you fear your child is missing, or suspect something suspicious in your neighborhood.
What is Kidnapping?
In cases like Abby Hernandez’s, some may wonder if the person (especially a teenager) simply ran away from home. As the Bring Abby Home website notes, the FBI was consistent in identifying Abby’s case as a Missing Persons case and did not suspect that Abby Hernandez had left on her own terms. While teenagers do tend to be rebellious, kidnapping is a real threat that should be taken seriously, regardless of the victims age. According to USLegal.com’s Kidnapping and Abduction laws webpage, kidnapping is defined as a felony crime in which a person purposely takes a person against their will to an unknown location.
Keeping Kids Safe
To help keep your children as safe as possible, talk to them (in age appropriate ways) about being careful around strangers. Let them know that they should stay with friends and not to leave any area without a trusted adult unless you have given them explicit permission to do so. Encourage them to only walk in well lit, busy areas and to avoid back roads or places that are easily shielded from the public. Consider having your child carry a cell phone or other mobile device so that you can have contact with them when they are otherwise unable to get to a phone. Keep your cell phone with you and keep it charged so that you can be available should your child attempt to contact you. In the case of Abby Hernandez, her cell phone was one of the last known points of contact prior to her kidnapping. Tips and considerations on deciding whether or not your child is ready for their own cell phone can be viewed here.
What To Do If Your Child Goes Missing
If you should ever be in the situation where you fear your child is missing, call 911 or your local law enforcement officials immediately. The National Center For Missing & Exploited Children urges parents search your entire home, including vehicles and closets when your child goes missing from your home, or to alert store officials that your child is missing if you should lose your child while in a shop. If you are ever unsure of a situation or see something that does not seem right, contact your local law enforcement agency.
If you have any information that may assist police in the case of Abby Hernandez’s disappearance, please contact the New Hampshire State Police at 603-271-3636.
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