PALM COAST, Fla. – (KPRC)- As Sharon Tierney was walking home from Indian Trails Middle School last year, the 13-year-old noticed a suspicious man following her, she said.
“I had to walk faster,” said Tierney. “Before I was able to turn onto Bruning (Lane) he grabbed me from behind, kind of in a chokehold.”
Tierney said she kicked the man and was able to run home safely. Despite a search for the man shortly after the February 2015 incident, authorities never identified any suspects.
[WEB EXTRA: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children]
“I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, am I going to live? Am I OK?’” said Tierney.
Would your child know what to do if someone tried to kidnap him or her?
Montgomery Texas Police Chief Jim Napolitano, a former Secret Service agent to four different presidents, is an expert in protection and security. With his advice and the help of child and adult actors, News 6 set out to teach parents exactly, step by step, what you need to do to escape from a child abductor in four typical scenarios.
Scenario No. 1: A predator approaches a child at the playground. There are others around, but the attacker snatches the child quickly.
What do you do?
Napolitano says two things:
1. Scream as loud and fast as you can to attract attention
2. Fight, punch, kick and claw
“They have to fight," he said. "Fight with everything they have inside of them to get away from this person that wants to do them harm."
Scenario No. 2: The child enters an empty house with no one around and is attacked by a predator.
The key here is to escape. Because the child is alone, there is no one to scream out to.
To do that, Napolitano said the child needs to use the most powerful weapon he or she has: their teeth.
“Here, the child needs to bite down on the attacker's arm, hand, leg, as hard as he possibly can to get this guy off of them. The human bite is by far one of the most devastating things that can happen to you physically. There can be no mercy; the child must get away," Napolitano said.
The best way to escape?
Scenario No. 3: A child is walking home from the bus stop. Other children and parents are in the area when the child is attacked and grabbed by an abductor.
The key to survival here, Napolitano said, is to make as much noise as possible to alert the parents nearby.
Ideally, the child would have a whistle hooked onto his or her book bag that the child could blow.
Without that, the child’s best bet is to scream like they have never screamed before.
“They have to alert everyone in the area that they are in trouble, and that means screaming a blood-curdling scream that will get someone’s attention,” Napolitano said.
Scenario No. 4: A group of children walk by a man sitting in a van with a dog. The man calls the kids over to ask them for help in finding the dog’s owner, and when they get close enough, the predator grabs one of the children and pulls the boy or girl inside the van.
What do you do?
Napolitano said it is critical that the child get out of that van at the very first opportunity, because if he or she fails to do that, this could be deadly.
“The child needs to concentrate on finding that door handle and opening it just as soon as the predator lets go of them. As soon as the kidnapper lets loose of the child to run to the driver’s side of the car or van, that’s when the child must pop that handle, jump out and run as fast as they can,” Napolitano said.