STRANGER DANGER skills to prevent Abduction, Abuse

and the foundation that Erin started

Joyful Child Fund In Memory of Samantha Runnion: Erin Runnion and her partner Ken Donnelly established the foundation out of a commitment to turn Samantha’s tragedy into something positive. The foundation’s focus is on proactive approaches in dealing with the difficult issues of violence against children while celebrating the gift that is every child.


Our goal is to ensure that every child is empowered with personal safety education. The more children are given opportunities to practice, the more they are able to cultivate an instinctual response to recognize, avoid, and if necessary, physically resist and escape inappropriate behaviors, abduction, or violence. To meet this challenge, The Joyful Child has developed an interactive life-skills program designed to promote health, personal safety, and resilience skills for students in Pre-School through 12th grade.

The objective is to develop each student’s ability to reduce the risk of victimization by providing knowledge and skills about safety.

There are two delivery models for The Joyful Child’s BRAVE Programs:

1) School-based supplemental health and physical education BRAVE Curricula for grades: K-6, 6-9, and 9-12.

2) Community-based program with 90 minute age-appropriate BRAVE Workshops for children in Kindergarten – 12th Grade.

School Districts and individual school sites are invited to teach The Joyful Child BRAVE Curricula as a supplemental Health and Physical Education program. The Elementary and Middle School lessons are divided into 10 easy-to-follow lesson plans for the classroom that have complementary Physical Skills lesson plans for Physical Education. Teachers who piloted the BRAVE Curricula reported that the lesson plans are very easy to follow and fun to implement. The Program can be taught either as an intensive, consecutive block of curriculum for 45 minutes per day (or two or three times per week) until the program is complete, or on an extended schedule in 15-30 minute increments, as time permits, throughout the year.


Community Based BRAVE Workshop Program & Training

Community non-profit organizations, law enforcement, and other public agencies are invited to participate in a training to teach The Joyful Child’s BRAVE Workshops for children ages 5-17. These 90-minute workshops are designed to nurture each student’s ability to recognize potential dangers, verbalize discomfort or a need for help, and physically resist abduction or assault.

Adult Education for Child Protection

The Joyful Child’s Adult Education for Child Protection cultivates awareness of predatory crimes against children, offers specific steps to reduce the risk of victimization, and encourages ongoing prevention education in communities.

The Joyful Child trains volunteer Ambassadors to give groups of parents and caring adults important information and strategies to help keep children safe from abuse and abduction through a 60-minute presentation titled, “Preventing Child Abduction.”

Contact us to schedule this inspiring and empowering discussion about how we can create a safer community for all of our children. It takes a community to keep children safe and Ambassadors are the key to uniting communities in the protection of children.


Going Beyond “Don’t Talk to Strangers”


Rather than teaching children to fear strangers, which is at best, woefully inadequate, we need to use positive messages,” says Dr. Broughton. “Children need to learn skills and confidence, not fear and avoidance.” says Daniel Broughton, M.D., a pediatrician at Mayo Clinic


  • Children should know their name, address and phone number (with area code) so, if lost, they can be reunited with their family.
  • Older children should know parents’ work numbers.
  • Away from home, older children should always be with a friend, always tell an adult where they will be, and say “no” if they feel threatened or uncomfortable.
  • Children need to know that appropriate strangers — store clerks or police officers — can offer assistance if they are lost or need help.
  • Parents need to listen, and respect their children’s feelings. Children can sense unease in inappropriate relationships. They’ll likely share their concerns if parents routinely take all of their concerns in life seriously rather than downplaying or shaming them.
  • Children need to know that they do not need to kiss, hug, touch or sit on the lap of anyone, relative or not, if they do not wish to. This respect for their wishes translates into self-respect and the ability for children to say no to unwanted contacts without generating fear.
  • Parents need to supervise children who use the Internet. Although still relatively uncommon, the practice of pedophiles and child molesters approaching children on the Internet is occurring more frequently.
  • Parents need to keep reinforcing safety messages through middle school and high school. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, most victims of nonfamily abductions were 12 years or older (58 percent). Most were girls (65 percent).
  • Parents should realize the limitations of participating in programs where children are fingerprinted or otherwise identified. These programs can frighten children and raise fears in adults without giving perspective on the real nature or risk of abduction.
  • Parents should keep on hand a high-quality recent photo of each child, such as a school photo. Law enforcement officials consider photos the best tool in finding missing children.
  • Parents should promptly report a missing child. The Amber Plan, the national program to immediately flood a region with news of an abduction, is credited with helping to recover more than 130 children since it started two years ago.

Question: How Many Kids a Year Are Abducted?

Answer: Missing children overview:

  • Of the 837,055 missing persons reported in 2001, an estimated 80 percent were children.
  • About 99 percent were found within hours or days by usual law enforcement response.
  • More than 7,000 children nationwide were missing for prolonged periods.
    (Sources: FBI, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)

Nonfamily Abductions

  • In 1999, more than 50,000 children and adolescents were taken by nonfamily members by physical force or coercion for at least one hour.
  • Ninety-one percent of nonfamily abductions lasted less than a day, with 29 percent lasting two hours or less.
  • Classic nonfamily kidnappings pose the greatest risk of death or serious harm. About 100 children were kidnapped by nonfamily members in 1999.
    (Source: U.S. Department of Justice National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children, 2002) Family abductions

203,900 children each year are victims of family abductions, where the child is taken by a noncustodial parent.

24 percent of these abductions lasted one week to one month. Police were contacted in 60 percent of the cases.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children, 2002

[From Lara/Trace… Each and every school room needs to teach the basics of “stranger danger” to first grade students and parents should be required to attend a course created by local police to combat trafficking, abduction and child abuse… There are police programs where parents make ID KITS with a current photo of their child and include details the police need to create an alert…]


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