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Cleveland kidnappings: what abductions should teach worried parents

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Michelle Knight, who was 21 when she went missing on Aug. 22, 2002, told police that Castro offered her a ride home as she was walking on Cleveland’s Lorain Avenue. Instead of taking her home, he allegedly brought her to his house where he locked her up in the basement, the police affidavit said.

Amanda Berry had just finished her shift at Burger King on April 21, 2003, when Castro offered her a ride home. He told her that his son also worked at Burger King. Ms. Berry, 16 at the time, called her parents to tell them she was getting a ride home.

Georgina DeJesus knew Castro before she was abducted at age 14. She was friends with Castro’s daughter, whom she had been walking home with on April 2, 2004. Castro approached Ms. DeJesus after the two girls parted paths and offered her a ride to his house so she could hang out with his daughter, the report said.

Nonfamily abductions are rare, representing an “extremely small portion” of missing children, according to the US Justice Department's most recent report on missing children published in 2002.

These kidnappings involve a stranger or acquainteance who detains a child overnight, transports them more than 50 miles, holds them for ransom, or intends to keep them permanently or kill them, the report said. These type of abductions often receive the most media attention.

Parents should talk with their kids about how to be aware of their environment and how to recognize potentially dangerous situations, said Rebecca Baily, a pshychologist who worked with former abductee Jaycee Dugard, in an interview with Time magazine.

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