1) Why didn't Shawn's friend who joked that he looked just like the missing boy, contact the police instead of asking someone who if he were kidnapped could be too terrified to give an honest answer?
From Yahoo News:
Another friend said she would tease Hornbeck when they saw news coverage about missing posters with his likeness.“We would even kind of giggle about it and say you look just like Shawn Hornbeck but he never acted on it, no response, nothing,” Kelly Douglas told Fox News.Obviously, we can't go back and this friend shouldn't be shamed for how he responded to the similarity. But what needs to happen is for people to realize there is a better response to the appearance of similiarities.
My suggestion would be to collect as much information as possible before reporting to the police or to a hotline so the police have more to go on in case the child disappears. Details like the license plate of the car the child gets into. Then let the authorities investigate so they can verify the child's identity.
If the child isn't the missing child then no harm has been done.
2) What can we tell children so they will know when it is worth the risk to reveal their identity if they are kidnapped?
If all we tell children is what not to do (don't get in a car with a stranger), they won't have any idea of what they can do to get free. They won't know if the person who hurt them can make good on their threats.
We also need to tell them that nothing they are forced to do by a kidnapper is their responsibility and nothing that happens to them will make them less wanted or less loved.
Children need to know how to approach the police so they won't be at risk of being returned to their kidnapper as a child who tells wild lies.
We need to learn how kidnappers control their victims and so we can give potential victims more practical tools they can use if they become victims without making them live in a constant state of fear.
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