Most child abductions take place in grocery stores, say experts

July 09, 2017

Saudi Gazette report

JEDDAH — Many cases of child abduction came to light in the months of May and June raising the public concern. The most common places for kidnapping incidents were grocery stores.

Speaking to Al-Watan newspaper, a number of experts identified four possible reasons for kidnapping children.

They said the motive could be retaliation against the child's family, sexual assault, trafficking them for organ harvest or utilizing them for terror recruitment.

The past two months have seen a number of kidnapping and disappearance cases involving children in different areas.

Dr. Hani Al-Ghamdi, a psychologist who specializes in family issues, says the social situation has changed and awareness issues that were previously part of social practices no longer exist.

"Things are very far apart in terms of social relations in a neighborhood. People within the same neighborhood don't know each other very well. This gives room for outsiders, who take advantage of the weak social ties," Al-Ghamdi pointed out. He said security or safety levels currently were not the same as in the past.

Al-Ghamdi says homes are now responsible for maintaining the safety of family members. "There is no longer any help from the neighbors, and the responsibility is placed directly on parents so they must create awareness in their children. They must tell them not to trust strangers regardless of the situation as this could end up in kidnapping," he added.

Al-Ghamdi said most of the kidnappings or harassment crimes occurred inside grocery stores. "Unfortunately, many families make the mistake of sending their children to the grocery store alone," he said.

He explained that there was a big difference between the meaning of escape and abduction. "There are perceivable signs of escape plans, whether it is a child or a teenager or a young adult, while kidnappings take place without any warning signs," he said.

Hawazin Al-Zahrani, an educational consultant specializing in children's rights, has pointed out that child abduction has become a phenomenon in society, but in the Kingdom great efforts are being made to ensure children's safety. The concerned parties have contributed to reducing incidents by enacting laws against the aggressors.

"Unfortunately, many abductions occur for the purpose of human trafficking, sexual exploitation and abuse and recruitment, as well as in retaliation against families," said Al-Zahrani.

She stressed the need for families to take care of children and not to leave them alone.

Al-Zahrani warns that many electronic games have become creative tools in planning kidnaps.

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