The effectiveness of victim resistance strategies against stranger child abduction: an analysis of attempted and completed cases

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Abstract

Existing research, policy information, and materials intended to teach children assume that certain behaviours will protect children in the event that a stranger tries to abduct them. However, there is little empirical basis for these assumptions. This article examines resistance strategies thought to reduce the likelihood that a child will be able to overcome an attempted stranger child abduction event. 78 cases of stranger child abduction that occurred in the United Kingdom between 1988 and 2014, including 25 attempted cases and 53 completed cases, were examined in order to ascertain the relative prevalence of various resistance types, and to assess whether the presence or absence of 7 key resistance strategies had an impact on the outcome of the abduction. Results show that direct, unequivocal verbal resistance, running away, and a composite approach where the victim runs away, calls for help and reports the offence were highly effective means of resisting an offender, whereas physical resistance, indirect verbal resistance and non-resistance were not effective. Female victims were almost twice as likely to employ any kind of resistance strategy against an offender as male victims. The implications of these findings for augmenting ways in which children are taught about safety are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-295
JournalJournal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling
Volume13
Issue number3
Early online date23 Mar 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016

Keywords

  • Child Abduction
  • Stranger
  • Victim Resistance
  • Attempted and completed offences
  • Child Safety

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