Kidnapping Cases Alarm Parents Nationwide

The kidnapping and murder of 5-year old Samantha Runnion in Orange County, California, is just one of three abductions in the last few months that have captured the attention of parents across the nation.

First, there was Danielle Van Damme, kidnapped and murdered in San Diego, then the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart in Utah. And this week, Samantha Runnion was abducted while playing with a friend and later found murdered.

Not to mention, the less publicized disappearances of 7-year old Milwaukee native Alexis Patterson in May, and Logan Tucker of Woodward, Okla. The abductions are scaring parents across the country and here in East Texas.

"It's very frightening as a parent to have to worry about even letting your children go out in the front yard to play," said mother of two, Rachel Parker.

Parker says in her experience, it's hard to make kids resist the lure of friendly strangers. Just recently, she had an eery experience while shopping with her 4-year old son at a movie store.

"He had gone out of my eyesight for just a moment," remembers Parker. "And I was looking for him and I looked up, and here he came down the middle aisle of the movie store holding the hand of a man I've never seen before."

Cases receiving much of the publicity this year involve kids taken from their homes and by complete strangers, but fortunately those incidents are rare.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says most kids are kidnapped by someone they already know. There's more than 350,000 abduction cases each year, on average 200 are taken by strangers.

Tyler psychologist Barry Rath, Ph.D, says parents should discuss safety procedures with their children while making sure fear doesn't rule their lives.
   "Parents need to give the child a reasonable level of caution without sending them into a panic," said Rath.