Metro Detroit woman teaches children how to stay away from stranger danger

Jennifer LaCognata introduces daughter to karate to keep her safe

By Meaghan St Pierre - Producer, Karen Drew - Reporter/Anchor

DETROIT - Jennifer LaCognata introduced her daughter, Eme, to karate to keep her safe.

“It’s scary," LaCognata said. "I mean, you want your kids to be protected."

Many parents are concerned about stranger danger and bullying.

Rachel Hughes, a sixth-degree black belt and a retired deputy lieutenant, teaches children to scream as loud as they can, yell "no," and then run as fast as they can if confronted by a stranger. She also teaches them to never get into a stranger’s car.

“You don’t want our children to be paranoid, but we want them to be educated,” Hughes said.

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, young girls aged 10 to 14 are taken much more often than boys. The attacks usually take place in the afternoon between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and, 70 percent of the time, an abductor will be driving a car when they spring their trap on their target.

Research shows children who are passive and polite get abducted more often.

“If they are taken to a store or a strange place of always bringing attention to themselves,” Hughes said.

Other self-defense tips include putting fingers into the attacker's eyes, stomping on their feet, placing a palm on their chin or throat and biting them.

“Out in the real world it’s something that can happen,” Eme LaCognata said.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children lists the following ways in which abductors lure children:

  • Offering a child a ride.
  • Offering candy or sweets.
  • Asking questions.
  • Offering money.
  • Using an animal.

While no parent wants to think the worst can happen, all parents should be prepared.

Many police departments offer a free child identification kit that provides a place for fingerprints, a recent photograph and other identifying information. This kit can then be given to police should a child be missing for any reason.

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