10-Year-Old Hailey Owens’ Murder Is One Every Kid Should Know About

Have you heard about Hailey Owens? She was the little girl that was murdered last week, allegedly by an elementary school athletics coach. Her body was found in Craig Michael Wood’s basement. He fits the description of the man witnesses say abducted Hailey just three hours before he was taken in.

Three hours. It took three hours for this little girl to go from walking home from a friend’s house to being dead.

But the scariest part about this case is that it’s truly one of those “it could happen to anyone” cases. Although most kidnapping cases involve family members abducting children, Woods wasn’t related to Hailey. It’s unclear if she even knew who he was.

It was in broad daylight. Witnesses say that Woods seemed to be asking Hailey for directions, and when she stepped closer, he grabbed her into the vehicle and sped off. One tiny step forward, and she was gone. Apparently people tried to chase after him, and at least one person was able to report the license plate number to the police. Amber alerts were issued.

It didn’t matter. Hailey couldn’t have done anything to keep herself safer, but it’s a good reminder to do a little Stranger Danger refresher course with my own kids.

Side note: Apparently you’re not supposed to say “stranger danger” anymore because it’s confusing. Well ok then.

Anyway, there are some things that are important to talk to your kids about when it comes to interacting with adults that they don’t know. For instance, that whole “don’t accept candy from strangers” thing. Or get into a car with someone you don’t know.

Now I have a new one to tell my kids -- if someone stops you and asks for directions, or wants to talk to you for any reason, don’t step closer to the car. Back away. Run away.

I’ve also told both my daughters to run away and scream as loudly as possible if someone tries to grab them. They should yell, “I don’t know you!” as loudly as possible so that witnesses won’t think they’re just throwing a tantrum.

If they get grabbed, they’re to aim for the crotch and the eyes. They’ve had my phone number memorized since they were three, in case they ever ended up lost.

Speaking of being lost, I’ve taught them to look for other moms with small kids. Statistically speaking, moms with young children aren’t likely to be kidnappers.

There’s nothing we moms can do in cases like Hailey Owens’ murder. But sometimes we feel like we have to do something to try to prevent another senseless tragedy.

Do you talk to your kids about what to do if someone tries to kidnap them?

Image via Symphoney/Flickr

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Robcat21 Robcat21

Not trying to blame the victim but the article said the child "couldn't done anything to keep herself safer" and that is categorically untrue. I have heard of the direction ruse and advised my children to never approach a car of someone they don't know whether that person is asking for directions or looking for a lost puppy, another popular ruse. An adult should never ask a child for directions. Hailey's unfortunate death serves as a reminder for us to talk yet again to our children about strangers and the things they need to be aware of. Sometimes all the warnings in the world don't matter. If Hailey hadn't stepped closer, he might have still gotten out of the car to get her. Remember what happened to Amber Hagerman. We live in a dangerous world and we need to look after each other's children. Looks like bystanders tried to chase the car and even got the license plate. 3 hours and she was gone. Tragic.

Bruic... Bruickson

I want so much to be able to give my daughter space and freedom to be independent and explore, have little "adventures" and well....just be a kid. But it's just too dangerous these days. I feel like I need to watch her like a hawk so I won't be consumed with anxiety.

She's only 4 right now so there really isn't much she does without me with her right now anyway but even when she wants to go play with the little girl a couple houses down from us I will go grab a lawn chair or do yard work so I can keep an eye on her (and that's even when the other parents are outside also). We live in a nice neighborhood but I feel like I just can't let my guard down when I hear stories like this. Eventually, when she is old enough, she isn't going to want me to be over her shoulder everytime she plays with her friends. Hopefully my house will be the "cool" house and all the kids will want to play here. I use to hate how over protective my parents were and how they would constantly call to check on me but now I totally understand why they did. I hated it but I get it.

youth... youthfulsoul

I don't think there was anything his child could have done. This sicko had agenda and didn't care that he did it right in front of neighbors who yelled and chased him and one even gave chase with his own car. This creep had a plan to snatch a child, any child.

nonmember avatar FarmersWife

Doesn't matter if they do know the person. Look at the Amanda berry case. He got one of those women to Willingly get in his car by being the father of a friend. Besides teaching children to be cautious and follow their instincts I'm not sure there is any way to always prevent this type of junk. It's not like criminals are stable and predictable people... I feel for all the parents that wonder what they could have done differently. But I think every parent is doing their absolute best to protect their child. We live in a far from perfect world...

nonmember avatar Amazed

Bruickson, I completely agree w/you. I have a 5 and 7 year old and as they get older, I really struggle with letting them be more independent. i know it is part of growing up, but with this in the news nearly every day it seems, I have them on a very tight leash. I am afraid to let them out of my sight in public for even a minute. its so sad what the world is becoming. what do you tell your kids? talk to no one & run screaming if anyone tries to talk to you in public that aren't mom or dad? just breaks my heart.

kayba... kaybayblee3

I was once told to face the opposite direction of the car, that way when something does happen you can run and the driver will have to take time to turn the car around to catch you.

It's just a sad story. No kid deserves that.

Wyatt... WyattsMom772

My  14 year old wonders why I have been so careful and strict all his life.. This is it.  I am trying to let him be more independent but I am terrified.  He's my only child. 

Felip... FelipesMom

"Side note: Apparently you’re not supposed to say “stranger danger” anymore because it’s confusing. Well ok then."

This is not a very helpful attitude! It is TRUE that "stranger danger" confuses kids, and if it confuses them, then it isn't going to WORK very well, is it? The thing is, parents talk to strangers all the time, but then we tell kids not to. Do you want your kid trying to figure that one out while in a potentially dangerous situation? Or do you want to be clear from the start? 

Read the linked article, and I also recommend checking out Gavin de Becker's incredibly informative and actionable book, Protecting the Gift. It was recommended to me by someone right here on CafeMom, and I can't praise it highly enough.

pipsm... pipsmommy

My mom always taught me not to talk to strangers and all that but then she also taught me what to do if I was ever kidnapped. And what she taught us was kind of brilliant.

She taught us to crash the car. If we were ever kidnapped we should wait for the moment when there was a car to crash into and we should jump up and yank that steering wheel with all our might. She also told us that jumping out of a car going 30 or 40 mph would hurt but it wouldn't kill us, like a kidnapper would. And if we were locked in the trunk we should pull back the fabric and start pulling every wire we could.

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