Cleveland kidnappings: what abductions should teach worried parents
The Cleveland kidnappings scenario portrayed in court documents is a familiar nightmare for parents, who should take the opportunity to teach their children about safety, experts say.
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The scenario portrayed in the documents filed Thursday in Cleveland Municipal Court is a familiar nightmare for parents, involving the seemingly innocent offer of an unplanned ride to a young person by an adult male, whether a stranger or acquaintance.
According to the documents filed in court, Ariel Castro offered Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and Gina DeJesus rides home on separate occasions between 2002 and 2004. Instead of taking them home, he took them to his house on Seymour Avenue where he kept them captive until this week, a period ranging from 9 to 11 years.
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With all the media attention on the case, child experts say this is an opportunity for parents to talk to their children about what to do if someone attempts to abduct them.
"Every parent needs to have age-appropriate conversations with their children about their safety to-and-from school, at school, and in the community,” said Kenneth Trump, president of the National School Safety and Security Services, in a statement Wednesday. “Whether they are five or 15, we should not assume that children know the seriousness of potential threats or know what to do if they are confronted.”
Michelle Knight, who was 21 when she went missing on Aug. 22, 2002, told police that Castro offered her a ride home as she was walking on Cleveland’s Lorain Avenue. Instead of taking her home, he allegedly brought her to his house where he locked her up in the basement, the police affidavit said.
Amanda Berry had just finished her shift at Burger King on April 21, 2003, when Castro offered her a ride home. He told her that his son also worked at Burger King. Ms. Berry, 16 at the time, called her parents to tell them she was getting a ride home.
Georgina DeJesus knew Castro before she was abducted at age 14. She was friends with Castro’s daughter, whom she had been walking home with on April 2, 2004. Castro approached Ms. DeJesus after the two girls parted paths and offered her a ride to his house so she could hang out with his daughter, the report said.