Though statistics remain constant, parents now fear abductions - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Though statistics remain constant, parents increasingly fear abductions

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A Des Moines Register survey has found 68 percent of Iowa adults believe children are more at risk of being abducted than when they were young, and only 25 percent believe children are safer today. A Des Moines Register survey has found 68 percent of Iowa adults believe children are more at risk of being abducted than when they were young, and only 25 percent believe children are safer today.
IOWA CITY (KWWL) -

Rezin Secrest of Iowa City has felt the fear of temporarily being separated from her daughter in public.

"You turn your back on your kid for one minute and they're gone," Secrest said.

She says it's then that her mind thinks the worst.

"I feel like it's not unlikely that if someone saw a child wandering by themselves, they could kidnap a child," she said. 

Secrest isn't alone in her concern.

A Des Moines Register survey has found 68 percent of Iowa adults believe children are more at risk of being abducted than when they were young, and only 25 percent believe children are safer today.

"When I was a little kid, you didn't hear about this," Secrest said. 

The National Center for Missing and Exploited children has found no data to support an increase in incidents. Rather, the number of attempted abductions has remained about the same from year to year.

"Those types of numbers, the stereotypical stranger abductions, have stayed fairly consistent over at least the past 10 years," said Nancy McBride, National Safety Director for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

University of Iowa psychology professor Michael O'Hara says expanded media coverage of these kidnappings contributes to the inflated concerns.

"The salience, I think, probably has as much responsibility for these perceptions as anything else," O'Hara said.

Police say the heightened publicity of these tragedies has made people more aware and better prepared to act.

"People do call in suspicious vehicles," said officer Shannon Stokesberry with the Cedar Rapids Police Department. "I think in the past they might have said, 'Oh well, someone else will call it in,' or 'It's not that big of a deal,' but I think people are on the lookout more."

Fighting these attempted abductions starts with education.

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children reports that 83 percent of failed abductions are a result of children running from or resisting a potentially dangerous situation.

It's knowledge that can help provide a bit of comfort for a very scary thought for parents.

'It seems like every week there's a new one," Secrest said.

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