DOTHAN, AL (WSFA) - It's a situation any parent would hope their child never encounters, coming face to face with a kidnapper. As terrifying as the thought is, according to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, at least 2 AMBER Alerts were issued last year for children in Alabama.
The Dothan Police Department is offering a free abduction prevention class for children,
"It's called Kid Escape," said Corporal Susie Peters. "It picks up where Stranger Danger leaves off. We still go over the importance of not talking to strangers and don't leave anywhere without an adult you're familiar with. We also go into some physical things to protect themselves from an abduction attempt."
"It's not to teach them how to out strength an attacker, it's actually teaching them how to outwit their attacker by using their body positioning," said Lieutenant Rachel David.
Typically an abduction happens in seconds.
"It's about 10 to 30 seconds," Peters said. "They're going to look around, have their vehicle positioned in a certain spot, walk up, grab, and go."
The techniques taught in the class help ensure the child isn't an easy target and isn't easily taken. The main technique is the "grip, dip, and spin," where a child d rops low to the ground, grabs hold of the attacker's legs to make it more difficult for them be picked up and carried away. Peters says the technique works for multiple scenarios.
"If they're coming at you from the front and grab your arm, get you in the headlock, throw you over their shoulder," she said.
In addition to the physical techniques, they also teach children how to bring attention to themselves.
"We teach them to yell and not scream. That sounds like kids playing," said Peters.
"In law enforcement we study those people who are able to overcome an attack. Often times, it's the mentality and pre-planning for how to handle a situation is the only differing factor," said David.
Peter's son, Austin Bennett, has gone through the course and says it's given him confidence.
"I can defend myself and get away," he said.
At least 50 people have already signed up for the class. Parents who registered say it's important to ensure their child is safe even when they're not around,
"I feel I'm doing the best of my ability to protect her. I know that if she has this set of skills, she'll be able to defend herself," said one mother, Ally Gulledge.
The course is next Saturday at Wiregrass Park and Recreation Center at 10 a.m. It's offered to children 5 to 11 years old. For more information call 334-793-0230 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.