Teach your child how to survive an abduction

Protection expert gives tips on best way to fight, stay alive

HOUSTON – Our children: happily playing one moment, but they can easily be taken by a child predator the next.

It happened in November to 11-year-old Angelly Oviedo of Montgomery on the day after her birthday.

Angelly was chasing a chicken that had run away near her home, when a man in a dark sedan drove up and offered her a ride. When she refused, he grabbed her violently by the arm and pulled her inside the car before speeding away.

“I was really afraid to die,” Angelly said.

But experts in child abduction said Angelly’s parents taught her well because Angelly did everything right and escaped from her abductor.

She simply waited for her first opportunity. When the man stopped the car, she opened the door and ran for cover.

“When he stopped driving, I got out of the car and started running through the forest until I found a road that I knew,” Angelly recalled.

Would your child know what to do if he or she was kidnapped?

To make sure you do, Channel 2 Investigates teamed up with Chief Jim Napolitano of the Montgomery Police Department. A former Secret Service agent to four different presidents, Napolitano is an expert in protection and security.

With Napolitano’s advice, and using both child and adult actors, KPRC 2 News 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:

  • Scream as loud and fast as you can to attract attention
  • 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?

  • Fight
  • Bite
  • Flee
  • 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 book bag that he 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 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.

    That’s almost exactly what Angelly did. She waited for her first chance to escape, and then she bolted from the car.

    She got away without a scratch.

    She has some advice for every other child in that spot.

    “I would tell them to never give up and keep on trying to stay alive,” Angelly said.

    About the Author:

    Emmy-winning investigative reporter, insanely competitive tennis player, skier, weightlifter, crazy rock & roll drummer (John Bonham is my hero). Husband to Veronica and loving cat father to Bella and Meemo.