Guest Editorial Week Of 9/12/2022

Melissa Martin

Child abduction by strangers is rare, but it can happen

It’s a parent’s worst nightmare.
According to the Kids Live Save website, “It is very rare for a child to be approached by a random sexual predator while in a public place, but of course, it is still possible.” (
According to Fox News, a 6-year-old child in Hamilton, Ohio, escaped as a male tried to grab her from the front yard. She screamed and ran in the house. A security camera showed the incident. The father chased the man down and the perpetrator was arrested.
Another recent incident happened in Florida. The New York Post reported that a sex offender, Hellmuth Kolb, 85, was arrested after he allegedly tried to “purchase” an 8-year-old girl for $100,000 at a Winn Dixie parking lot, according to the Port Orange Police Department in Florida. Kolb approached the child’s mother with an offer. And according to WESH-TV, Kolb was registered as a sex offender for trying to purchase another child in 2018 and “the terms of his probation include no contact with minor children other than family and must be accompanied in malls and big stores like Winn-Dixie.”
It’s hard to forget the horrific story of the abduction of Adam Walsh, son of Reve and John Walsh. Adam was abducted from a department store in Florida. Adam was murdered; his severed head was found two weeks later, but his body was never recovered.
The parents started the Adam Walsh Outreach Center for Missing Children out of their garage just a few days after Adam’s funeral. Later, the couple lobbied for the Missing Children’s Act, which would create a system for data to be entered into the FBI’s National Crime Information Center database (NCIC), according to Crime Feed. In the years that followed, John Walsh became a victim advocate and the host of the national TV show “America’s Most Wanted.”
Almost all children who have been abducted by strangers have been taken by males and about two-thirds of the children taken involve female children. Yet, most abducted kids are in their teens. (
Kidpower teaches stranger safety – not ‘stranger danger.’
We developed this approach in 1989, and every year, we are happy to see more safety programs worldwide choosing to follow our lead. When adults learn the Kidpower approach to Stranger Safety, then making Stranger Safety habits part of their daily life with kids can become as easy as making manners, hygiene, and traffic safety habits part of daily life.
The Kidpower approach makes it easier, more fun, and less scary to help kids be safer, more confident, and less fearful about safety with strangers.
We teach ways to introduce, use, and practice Stranger Safety at all ages – starting from early childhood and, for older children and teens, including emergency-only physical self-defense skills as a last resort to escape and get to safety. (
It’s up to adults to keep children safe.

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is a freelance columnist published in various national and international newspapers. She is a semi-retired therapist and educator. She lives in southern Ohio.


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