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Never say ‘It could never happen here’

This week, we hear of another horrific story of something that “can never happen here.”

Jaycee Dugard — kidnapped at the age of 11 in 1991 — was found with the help of some keen-witten campus police in California.

When she was last seen, she was on her way to the bus stop when she was abducted. When she was discovered, she had given birth to two children, the first when she was 14.

Of course, the good news is that she was still alive, as many of these cases come to more tragic ends.

In small-town America, we think nothing of letting our children loose at a young age.

We can all remember walking or riding our bikes to school by ourselves, thinking nothing of any hidden dangers. Kidnappings happen in bigger cities that have those kinds of people looking for little children to take advantage of.

Well, the more stories that we read about kidnappings, the more the dateline indicates that it is happening in small-town America.

There is no need to send our children to school or out to play with an armed guard, but we do need to maintain a level of caution when it comes to our children.

Have them check in when they get to where they’re going. Have them call and say, “I’m going to my friend’s house. I should be home about 5:00,” and have them call when they get to the friend’s house and call again if they might be there later than planned.

Have children stay in groups. Predators are not looking to pick up a group of four or five children or to take one from a group of potential witnesses; they just want one who is traveling alone.

Kidnappings and other tragedies hardly ever happen in our area, and that is a good thing. That doesn’t mean that it can never ever happen at all.

Make sure your children know how to take care of themselves when strangers approach, how to get away and get help.

Simple steps can help ensure their safety. It almost never happens in our town. Take measures to make sure your child is not the first.