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Putting The Statistics To The Test

Reported by: Send eMail Katy Brown
Videographer: Mike Magee, Jeff Morrison
Web Producer: Katy Brown
Reported: Nov. 26, 2013 3:40 PM EST
Updated: Nov. 27, 2013 7:18 AM EST


Stranger Danger
Eyewitness News Photo

Dunbar , Kanawha County , West Virginia

Children are kidnapped everyday across the United States. Many parents think, "This won't happen to me". But the harsh reality is that it does.

It happens to unsuspecting parents and their children. Every 40 seconds across the country a child is reported missing.

According to the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children, in the past 7 years, there have been more than 8,000 confirmed attempted child abductions in the US.

And while there are hundreds of ways for predators to lure children away, one of the ways they catch a child's interest is by using an animal.

So we put the statistics to the test: using a dog, setting up hidden cameras, and informing the children's parents and the police beforehand. We wanted to see what would happen if we went up to children at the playground. Would they come with us willingly?

We approached 4 year-old Ben and sisters, Kate, 5, and Elayna, 3. And what happened during these experiments may surprise you.

It's important to remember we did have a Kanawha County deputy on scene and Metro 911 dispatch was aware what we doing, just in case someone were to report an attempted kidnapping.

And while the parents were well aware of what was happening, others on the playground were not.

Aaron Hoffman was at the playground with his children and witnessed the experiment with Ben and he said he knew something wasn't quite right.

It was the actions he was ready to take that could have saved Ben's life.

Hoffman said he was watching the experiment and was ready to call police, which is the right and first thing you should do if you witness a possible kidnapping.

Hoffman also had a good description of my car, which is information that can help police locate the suspect and child much easier.

A description of the child's appearance and what the child was wearing is also helpful for police when you call. All this information could be used if and when an Amber Alert is issued for the missing child.

And if your child goes police, call police immediately. Be able to provide them with information about the child, such as name; age; birthday; height and weight; and what they were last wearing. It is also helpful for police if you are able to provide them with the name and description of the person or persons the child was last seen with.

If the child was at the home before the disappearance, check any hide away spaces such as closets, under piles of clothes, or even under beds.

The first 3 hours of the child's disappearance are the most critically, so never hesitate to call police.

Every day across the United States, children are reported missing. No parent thinks it will ever happen to him or her, but the harsh reality is that it can.

To prove that point, Eyewitness News Reporter Katy Brown wanted to see what would happen if we approached unsuspecting children at the playground. Would they walk away with us willingly? The results may surprise you.

Tune in tonight at 10 and 11 to see what happens in our special report, "Stranger Danger On The Playground."

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