Travelling abroad with the family is always fun and exciting. But living in Singapore, we do tend to take safety for granted. With the holidays here, we’d like to remind you not to let your guard down if heading out of Singapore, and to especially remember safety tips to prevent kidnapping.
Recently, there was a case of child abduction in Tanah Abang, Jakarta. The little girl, just five years old, was forced to beg on the streets after being abducted.
Exactly what happened, chronologically?
Why the Abductor Did It Will Shock You
One of the most important roles of a parent is to ensure that their child is safe, no matter where they are. Unfortunately, child abduction cases are still increasingly rampant in Indonesia, especially in the capital city of Jakarta.
The sole motive of the abductor for kidnapping the little girl in this case, was to exploit her to work.
Detik Com, a media company in Indonesia, contacted Edison Harefa, the Head of the Criminal Investigation Unit of Tanah Abang District, where the incident happened.
Mr Harefa said that the kidnapper’s main motive in this case was to earn extra cash by making the kidnapped child beg on the streets.
“He (the perpetrator) makes these children work as beggars. Before getting on the train, he would ask them to bring a piece of cloth and red buckets (for begging). (After that they’d alight) and then ask these children to beg for money. Afterwards they would go to Rangkas Bitung, alight, and beg for cash again. It would last all the way to Pariaman – up to tens of places,” he explained.
The kidnapper of the five-year-old girl, who is only known by the initial P, was a 37-year-old man called Herman.
He forced the little girl to become a beggar, asking her to plead with other people to give her money to cover her living expenses during the trip to Pariaman, West Sumatra.
Luckily the abductor was caught, 10 days after the initial kidnapping. Mr Harefa said that the child-victim had no choice but to obey Herman’s instructions due to the fact she received threats, as he always carried a knife with him.
Herman Wasn’t a Stranger to the Victim
According to a page in Liputan 6, Tanah Abang’s police chief, Lukman, an Adjunct police chief commissioner, stated that the abductor carried out his kidnapping on Wednesday, July 11 2018.
The suspect was not a stranger to the victim. “P” lived with her grandmother in an alley called the Great Mosque, in the Kebon Kacang Village, Tanah Abang. Herman often left his crate of goods in the victim’s residence.
Herman kidnapped the victim by luring her with candy and food until he was finally able to abduct her. After successfully kidnapping the victim, he brought her with him to Pariaman, West Sumatra.
How He Was Eventually Caught and Arrested
Local residents in Pariaman suspected that the victim wasn’t Herman’s child, from the way he treated her. Finally, one witness reported this case to the Pariaman District Police Station. After that, officers began investigating the suspect and victim.
After the investigations, the suspect, a criminal who had been arrested previously in 2011 by the Pariaman District Police due to a similar case, was finally arrested for the kidnapping of little “P”.
For this crime, subjected to Indonesian law, Herman will face a minimum sentence of three years in prison, with a maximum of 15 years. He will also be fined a minimum of Rp. 60 million and a maximum of Rp. 300 million.
Safety Tips to Prevent Kidnapping of Children In:
There are several things that you can do as a parent to prevent your child from being kidnapped:
1. If your child can speak already, do teach him to say his name, parent’s name, and his residential address.
2. Always supervise children. Don’t let them run away on their own in public areas.
3. Train your children to not be easily tempted by other people’s offers, especially with strangers.
4. Stay cautious when uploading photos of children on social media. You don’t need to include personal information or your current location.
5. Maintain good relationships with people around you and know your surroundings well. Many cases of kidnapping are carried out by people who you or your child recognise. These kidnappers often have another side, such as being secretly vengeful or emotional from an argument with the victim’s parents. Such feelings could lead to a case of kidnapping.
Parents, when you go on holiday abroad, it may seem that the hustle and bustle of life in Singapore has totally evaporated. However, you should always remain alert – especially in a foreign land.
It’s worth noting that it doesn’t matter where you are – kidnapping can still occur. Some countries, though, may be more prone to these incidents. Do read up on the dangers of such countries and weigh the risks before going there to relax.
Unsafe countries may bring about the danger of kids being abducted for ransom. Thus it pays to know the safety tips to prevent kidnapping while overseas.
Prepare Well Beforehand
- Talk to your family members about the possible risks before departing. Simulate kidnapping scenes – pretend that you are the kidnapper, and teach children how they should act if a stranger walks towards, lures or grabs them. Tell your children that they have to obey the same house rules, but to remain alert because of the risks in a foreign country. Do strictly warn teenage girls to never judge a book by its cover when it comes to love interests on holidays. Their “boyfriends” could be be grooming them for further dangerous acts.
- Secure important documents like passports and IDs in a well-protected place. Don’t forget to photocopy them before you depart.
- Bring along a photo of your kids. One good idea is to photograph your child before they leave the house. If your child does become lost, you can easily share photos of your child including how they dressed during that day.
- Ensure that your children know what your mobile number is and the name of the place you are staying in. Perhaps think about letting them them wear a holiday ID bracelet or even marking their arms or clothes with your mobile number.
- Teach your kids how to call using their phone whether locally or internationally (including country codes, too!).
Make Rules Once You Arrive
- After arriving at your holiday stop, pick out people who you can trust and your children can talk to if they need help. Local police officers or other families with children are good places to start, as these people can assist them if an emergency happens or if they find themselves astray.
- Tell your kids that there’s nothing wrong if they shout or yell while they are in danger – children should do everything in their power to draw people towards them.
- Toddlers and kids tend to roam a lot. Maybe try and fix a rule where children must always hold your hand unless you tell them not to. Do implement this rule in crowded areas like airports or amusement parks.
- Consider setting a gathering area if your children get lost, especially whenever you go somewhere new. Then, tell your child to go to the appointed place and stay there until you’ve come to pick them up if they become lost. You can even mention particular landmarks close by so that even young children will be able to recognise the gathering area.
- Monitor your children within your line of sight – prevent them from roaming. It will also help if you choose brightly coloured clothes for your children to wear so that they can be distinguished in crowded areas.
What You Should Do if Your Child Can’t be Found
If your child can’t be found, do follow what you would do back home – notify the police and alert hotel staff. Approach nearby staff if your child disappeared in a specific location (like the pool or carpark) so they can alert the local police and aid you in your search.
We hope these safety tips to prevent kidnapping will help you prevent any future tragedies from happening.
This article was translated by Kevin Wijaya Oey and republished with the permission of the theAsianparent Indonesia.