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November 11th, 2009 by Dr. Phil

Every Parent's Worst Nightmare

abducted1If you have trouble holding back your emotions while watching Thursday’s show on child abductions, I more than understand. In the years I’ve been doing this show, I really always try to remain professional,  maintain my composure and stay focused on the guest’s feelings rather than my own.  This show was a challenge because as a father I was thinking, “But for the grace of God, go I.”

In fact, when I walked out of the studio with Robin at the end of that taping, I squeezed her hand tighter than usual. It made us both want to run and hug our children long and tight.  It doesn’t matter that our kids are now grown. When I talk to these parents going through the pain of dealing with the abductions of their children, I can’t help but think of the horror that I would have felt if something like that had happened to one of our two sons. Despite the fact that I’m a mental health professional, I’m not sure I would be able to handle such a scenario. To be real honest with you, I’m not sure if I would be able to cope at all.  It is an Achilles’ heel I know I have.

We did the show for several reasons, including giving these parents a platform from which to speak and to hopefully provide some information and tools for all of the parents out there that want to be sure they are vigilant in protecting their own children. The strength and heart of these parents will inspire you, as they have inspired me.  It is worth a look, promise.

Here are some articles from DrPhil.com to help safeguard your children:

Top Five Ways for Parents to Protect Children
Teach Your Kids About Stranger Danger
Protecting Your Children
Missing Persons Resources

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66 Responses to “Every Parent's Worst Nightmare”

  1. Linda Rose says:

    I never had a child abducted but I did have a child lost. She wasn’t a little child but was seventeen. She had left home and broke off contact with everyone. I remember not being able to eat or sleep and crying all the time.The worry, feeling of hopelessness, not knowing if we would ever see her again and wondering if she was safe? I felt guilt also and wondered what I had done wrong to cause this? Eventually we did gain contact when she called. Nothing mattered then accept we knew she was safe.Those weeks inbetween were torture. I can only imagine what parents go through when their children are actually stolen.

  2. Melanie says:


    I am Melanie a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a friend, a meme, I was a child victim now I am a adult survivor of child sexual assault. I am a warrior for the cause.

    I am on a mission of prevention and treatment of childhood sexaul assault.
    Child Sexual Assault also known as; Sexual Abuse equal to Repeated RAPE OF A CHILD, by someone the child knows and/or trusts. Imagine that for about 5 years and then you can begin to learn the pain of its victims.
    Even one experience of this crime can change a childs life forever.
    The scars run deep.

    I would really appreciate on behalf of all sexually abused children; If you would feature a series of shows teaching children about “FAMILY DANGER preventing sexual abuse within the family.”.In over 90% of sexually abused children cases the violence occured within the family or someone the family knows or trusts.
    Think about it what if children were taught to tell. They could take back control and increase their chances in getting the help they so desperately need.
    If we help the victims we decrease the ones who perpetrate the abuse.
    As we all know “Hurt People; Hurt People” One in eight victims may go on to offend. Children have the “Right to SAY NO”

    Child on Child sexual assault is on the rise. Victims are not getting help and the cycle is GROWING into uncontrollable numbers. 40% of Sexual Assault crimes that are occuring are by KIDS.

    Sexual abuse has lifelong consequences. We can lessen the pain by doing something TODAY, For the life of a child, of an adult, I ask you to step forward and help us warriors fight this battle.

    “I wondered why nobody did anything and then I realized, I am somebody”
    this is a quote to live by.


  3. Joyce Long says:

    I have never had a child abducted however my grandson got lost in store one time. Turned around and he was gone, scared the life out of me. In those few seconds all sorts of things start going through your mind, horrible feeling so I cant imagine what the parents must feel when it really happens. Something I fear everday no matter how old my children are.

  4. I know these things happen. I think we think they happen a lot more often than they do, because of the intensity of the media these days. That’s not to make light of the problem. I just believe that we’re super-sensitive from being inundated with stories, cases, reports, etc.

    From about the age of 3 I began sending my children to various courses put on through Child Safe Canada. Children are less likely to take parents’ rules to heart than they are others. In a class situation they also realize that this is a RULE rule, like as in “police serious” stuff. My kids have taken things like Stranger Danger, Home Alone, first aid and babysitting courses.

    I can’t always be there. Children don’t always take parents’ paranoia seriously. I think between these classes and mom’s rules we’ve covered the bases the best we can.

  5. Great information Dr. Phil… I have the same Achilles’ heel.

  6. Wendy says:

    I can’t get the Dr. Phil show in Houston anymore but I am going to have my kids watch this video! My son is 4yrs. old and I think he would walk away with anyone in a second. He is very social and loves to give hugs to ANYONE!

  7. Reiko Z. says:

    Child Abduction has been around for centuries unfortunately. Back in 1981 a man tried to abduct me by talking me into coming up to his car. He even threatened to shoot me and said he had a gun. I still said no and got away from him and his car. Thank God my mom had talked to me as a young child about strangers or I wouldn’t be here today to type this comment.

  8. Phyllis A says:

    Dr Phil
    I can’t imagine what will be going through my mind if am ever put to that kind of siuation. Am a mother, sister and anuty and also a devoted wife. when i saw the preview( JUST THE PREVIEW), i cant but just think of what my fellow mothers are going thru now, that their loved children or child are in the hands of another person. i took my nephew to the mail one day and we went to this kids store just to go and look around, by the time we were done, i turned around and realized he was gone, i started yelling at the top of my lungs because his mother will not want to hear that his only son was missing and mind you, she was pregnant at that time, but was luck enough to have spotted a police officer which i explained everything to and we immediately closed all the entrance and exit of all the mall. After several searches, we found him following another couple thinking it was me. so i could imagine other parents that are not as lucky as i was that every fateful day.

  9. FosterBoys says:

    This is a “daymare” I have quite regularly. Really, anything that could potentially harm or rob me of my children is something that I would not be able to live through.

  10. Karen says:

    I “ditto” Melanie! I have a similar story. While I am very thankful for the awareness of Stranger Danger I have often asked myself the same question about “Family Danger” and the much needed awareness of that. I realize this can be very complicated but there’s got to be a solution somewhere. The cycle needs to end! I am trying to do my part in my community by starting small groups for women who have been abused but I feel like the need is so much bigger then me and it’s very difficult helping women find the courage to come forward and deal with the wounds and the damage.

  11. Jan says:

    1. Seems technology should here now to implant devices in sex offenders so that we know where they are. To those who argue their privacy is being violated, I say they gave it up when they committed the heinous act of child rape, and they’re lucky they aren’t in prison for life. Conversely, a sex offender may WANT to have such a chip to prove his or her innocence.

    2. Too bad there isn’t GPS technology to implant chips into minor children so that if they’re out of a given area, an alarm sounds & police are called & they can be tracked. When one reaches the age of adulthood, that chip could be removed.

  12. Janet Davies says:

    I was abducted when I was 13. I was on vacation in Miami in 1967 and became seperated from my family. I walked for miles, slept on a park bench and spoke with many adults telling them I was lost and asking them if they knew where the address I gave them was. I was walking across a bridge and as I started walking down the other side I saw a car with the hood up. As I passed the driver, a male in his forties called to me. I came back and he asked me if I would look at a hose in the engine and tell him if water came out of it when he started the engine. I complied. I was about to go on my way when he asked if I needed a ride. I said I was lost but that I knew my address. He said he knew where that was and I hopped in the car. It was a convertable car and after I got in he started to put the top up. He was very talkative and I could smell liquor on his breath. I also noticed he had his hand between his legs and was playing with himself. I looked out the car window thinking about my next move. I saw a man raking his lawn so suddenly I said “theres my dad” The man stopped and I jumped out and ran straight to the man raking his lawn. I told him about the man in the car but he had sped off. Surprisingly the man raking the lawn didn’t help me get home either. I guess in those days they didn’t know about things like that. Now I am always watching out for kids. If I see a lost kid in a store or I am out in public and I see something that just doesn’t set right with me I investigate and make sure the kids are safe. If my kids got out of my sight in a store I was never embarrassed to start notifying other shoppers around me and enlist their aid in locating my child. Once a store manager sealed all the store doors until my child was found playing hide and seek with mommy in the clothes rack! I taught my children to scream out and yell “help I’m being abducted this is not my parent” I gave them a code word and they were not to go with anyone unless they said that word. Recently a child was abducted and murdered close to where I live. I feel grief as if she were my own. God keep our babies safe.

  13. Maria says:

    Great show today! I couldn’t wait to pick my kids up at school today and go over with them the top 5 ways to protect them. I have always talked to them about not talking to strangers and what to do in the event a stranger approached them. I have told them to scream and say “stranger, stranger, Help Help!!” but the technique I saw today was awesome. To fall on your bottom and kick and scream and yell stranger 911 is perfect. We also did some role playing and I have to say that they did great! Thanks again for the info and awareness.

  14. Carrie says:

    I greatly appreciated today’s show. I have a three year old and a 1 year old, and I’ve been trying to figure out how to teach my 3 y.o. about stranger danger without scaring her. I remember that my mom used to tell me to stay with her in the store so that bad men wouldn’t steal me away, and I started being horribly scared of the dark after that. I’m still scared of the dark because of the fear of someone lurking that I can’t see (even though I know it’s unfounded) and have to have at least one light on in the house even when I go to bed. I don’t want to create unfounded fear in my 3 y.o., but on the other hand, I want her to realize that when she goes next door to our neighbor’s house w/o telling us (thanks to doors that don’t lock from the inside), she’s running a risk that has possible horrible consequences. So, how do educate a child so young without scaring them?

  15. Eddy Somers says:

    Dr. Phil.

    Watching your program on safety proofing your children brings alive the issue to me that many or the techniques etc that we use in fact are extremely detrimental to our children. We have taught them all that we can to protect themselves and set up family programs to the same end.

    We have taught them who the bad guy is but we forgot to tell them that the good guys can be bad too. We urge them to go to someone they trust….a teacher, coach, family friend, doctor or neighbour. In most cases, these are the bad guys. It is the family, the friends , the people of authority that represent the greatest threat to a child. And we have told our children that they are the saviors. Without meaning, we have put our children into far greater danger than had we done nothing at all.

    30-40% of victims are abused by a family member. (2, 44, 76)
    Another 50% are abused by someone outside of the family whom they know and trust.
    Approximately 40% are abused by older or larger children whom they know. (1, 44)
    Therefore, only 10% are abused by strangers.


    Important Child Abduction Statistics According to the FBI and The US Dept. of Justice


    It is estimated that 3 out 4 parents/guardians has at some point momentarily lost their child. The average time of separation is 1 to 4 hours. This is completely preventable with the Brick House Child Locator.

    It is estimated that approximately 800,000 juveniles (under 18) are reported missing each year.

    “Family kidnapping” accounts for nearly 50% of all child kidnappings.

    “Acquaintance kidnapping” (kidnapping by person(s) known to the family account for over 25% of all child kidnappings.

    “Stranger kidnapping” accounts for nearly 25% of all child kidnappings.

    Kidnappings account for 2% of all reported violent crimes against juveniles.

    Victims of “stranger kidnappings” are found alive only 60% of the time.

    The number of missing persons has risen from just over 150,000 to over 800,000 in the last 20 years.

    Approximately 80% of non family abductions are sexually motivated.

    Nihil facimus sed il bene facimus

  16. Lisa DeSherlia says:

    To Dr. Phil:

    I have sent you a letter about this over this past summer. The missing children I mentioned in the letter are all still missing: Adji Desir (10 months missing), Haleigh Cummings (9 months missing), Brittanie Drexel (6 1/2 months missing), and Lindsey Baum (4 1/2 months missing). They need publicity. Thank you for doing this show! We need more shows like this one. Please do them! Also a big tip for keeping children safe that is very simple: Never let them walk alone but arrange that they be escorted places by a trusted adult. Women should try never to go anywhere alone but accompanied. A lot of these children go missing because they were alone, even if only for a few minutes. The sample children I mentioned (except for Haleigh, who was reportedly snatched out of bed) were alone when they vanished. I have a 9 year old, about to turn 10 in days. We do all we can to keep her safe. I’m getting very tired of hearing of all these people of all ages going missing. But keep in mind that children aren’t kidnapped only by strangers, but by non-custodial parents or by acquaintances (Remember Sandra Cantu?).

  17. Charity says:

    Dr Phil, thank you so much for doing the show today. At the age of 5 in 1982 in Baton Rouge, I was almost abducted in the middle of the night from my bedroom. To this day I can remember everything about the incident. Over the years, I was able to overcome my fear by trying my best to prepare myself for these types of situations. This “preparation” has extended to my immediate family. As a mother of a 5 year old and 2 year old, my husband and I sleep on the same floor as our children, bedroom doors locked, and a “secret door” between the rooms – in case of an intruder (kids don’t really know it is for an intruder…they just think it is cool). We talk about “bad” people (both strangers and family members) and what to do in certain situations. We do our best to not scare them but rather keep it simple like you said: never do this, etc. I have to say, however, I had never seen the play it safe defense and the “tantrum child”…this IS EXCELLENT! We will be adding this to our preparation soon. Again, thanks a bunch!

  18. Sandra says:

    Does Society Share the Blame?
    Concerning child killing, an Australian researcher shows that it is “not a random event.” In his book Murder of the Innocents—Child-Killers and Their Victims, Paul Wilson states that “both the killers and the killed are caught up in a vicious cycle that society itself has created.”
    It might seem strange to think that society may be responsible for, or at least may contribute to, this tragedy, since most people find the exploitation of and the murder of children to be horrendous acts. Yet, industrialized societies, and even many less-developed ones, are saturated with films, TV productions, and reading material that glorify sex and violence.
    There are now more and more hard-core pornographic films featuring children and even adults dressed up to resemble children. These depict explicit sex and violence involving children. Wilson further notes in his book that there are movie titles such as Death of a Young One, Lingering Torture, and Dismembering for Beginners. How large an audience do sadistic violence and pornography have? It is a multibillion-dollar industry!
    Graphic violence and pornography have a tremendous impact on the lives of those who exploit children. A convicted sex offender who had murdered five young boys confessed: “I am a homosexual pedophile convicted of murder, and pornography was a determining factor in my downfall.” Professor Berit Ås, of Oslo University, explains the effect child porn has: “We made a big mistake at the end of the 1960s. We believed that pornography could replace sex crimes by providing an outlet for sex offenders, and we took the lid off. Now we know we were wrong: such pornography validates sex crimes. It leads the offender to think, ‘If I can watch this, it must be okay to do it.’”
    An adult’s desire for titillation escalates as he becomes addicted to pornography. As a result, some are willing to use either coercion or violence to obtain children for their perverted use, including rape and murder.
    There are other causes for child abductions. In some lands this has increased because of bad economic conditions. Lured by large sums of ransom money paid by wealthy families, kidnappers target children. Each year many infants are stolen and sold to adoption rings that transport them out of the country.

  19. Tammy Thompson says:

    Unfortunately, the Harrington girl is 20 years old. She is not 3-4 years old. She should have known better than to leave the area ALONE at NIGHT (there are many details that apparently were not discussed on Dr. Phil today) AND her friends left the area knowing that she had not been heard from for a number of hours. They didn’t try to reach her or alert anyon–parents or police. She was not reported missing until THE NEXT DAY when she did not arrive at her parents’ home as planned. So, this is somewhat of a different situation than a small child being duped by a stranger. Not to sound heartless but. . ..

  20. Michael S. says:

    I have a daughter whose recently was a U.S. Marine. She told me that while in the Marines, she worked at being great in every phase of her training especially in marksmanship. She was an expert marksman (probably still is). I know she overcompensated in her training due to what happened to her at a young age.
    At the age of 10, she was molested by a stranger. The individual was eventually caught and prosecuted. I found out later, not from the police or her mother, but from her that this crime happened to her. She called me one day to apologize to me for not telling me that she was molested by a stranger. Now at 24, she is married and seems to be happy.
    I am a Vietnam era veteran who had enlisted in the USAF. I also had overcompensated in my training by taking martial arts. Since I knew I’d never see combat, I made the effort to be efficient in hand-to-hand combat. Why? I was molested at the age of 7, back when such things were not even considered as anything more than the child’s fault.
    There are plenty of statistics concerning missing and exploited children and young adults. I believe that our country, and probably the world, is under a generational curse due to our failure to uphold our own morality and teach higher values to the next generation. That is probably why we have to teach our children how to protect themselves.

  21. Blgspc says:

    Dr. Phil,

    I believe that this is a topic that you can NEVER have too many shows about!
    The thing that I LOVE MOST about shows like this is that these shows aren’t JUST about talking to your kids about what NOT to do in a suspicious situation BUT ALSO offers options for what to INSTEAD!!!
    I think that parents often forget to talk to their kids about, WHAT TO DO!!!



  22. Linda Rose says:

    I cried today watching this show about the abducted children. From the time I was less than five to the age of ten I was sexaully assaulted by two uncles. It made me very afraid of men. When I was eleven and again fourteen men tried to get me in their cars when I was walking alone. I was already terrified from the other assaults and ran away. Another time I was chased through the woods by a neighbor teenager but escaped. This is what happens to children like me who had no adults looking out for them. It was only by God’s grace I survived childhood.

    The show was really good today and something parents should watch with their kids and role play. Besides falling on the ground and kicking and screaming give your child a shrill whistle to keep in their pocket or wear around their neck and practice having them blowing it. Teach them to use it in emergencies only. It is also good to use when children are being bullied and need help. I figured that one out on my own when an older teenager after such a terrifying childhood.

    I have a police whistle that I found at a yard sale years ago and still carry it with me when ever I walk alone. It is amazing how fast a bully or predator will flee when a shrill whistle draws attention. Blow it and then run for help!

  23. Robin N. says:

    When I was young, my school district started a helping hand sign, a black background with an orange right hand ontop, for people to put in their windows. So children who felt in any danger would feel safe to go knock on that door. I did feel safer back then.I’d like to see the schools do that again, yet now days, for people to fill out forms to insure the safty for a child. Do background checks, just to insure they are upstanding human beings. Make the signs black and orange that kids can see well and understand that house is safe to go too. Only give the signs to folks who don’t mind a background check. I have a grown daughter of my own, and I know how I always felt fear that someone could take her from me. I knew I had to warn her about the bad people.It hurts a mothers heart to put fear in her childs heart, but is soooo nessisary now and always

  24. Sara Reiley says:

    Dr. Phil,

    I just watched your show on child abduction and as a mom I wanted to brush up on how to educate my daughter because I know how important being aware of your surroundings are. As a teenager I avoided being abducted by being aware of my surroundings. It chilled me to the bone then and still does now when I look back on it and think about what I avoided by being aware of what was about to happen; I was walking my neighbor’s 2 small dogs down a street I was very familiar with and it was the middle of the afternoon on a street that has quite a bit of traffic. I saw a van driving in my direction with a male driver I saw as he started to get closer to me he reached over the passenger seat and unlocked the passenger door—my instincts kicked in as soon as I saw that and I started running down a street with homes and an onlet to the golf course. I kept running as fast as I could until I got home (my parent’s house was off of the golf course) and told my parents what had just happened. We drove around looking for the van but couldn’t find it. I know that the driver planned on snatching me and putting me in his van but because I was aware, I saved myself and mt family from what could have been a tragic situation. Thank you so much for educating parents and kids, because truly it is worth the lesson.

  25. Please help in finding 11 year old Lindsey Baum, abducted on 26 June 2009 from McCleary, Washington.

    For details: http://bit.ly/h9duP

  26. Pat Hanson says:

    Every so often can you put on your screen how to find out who the pedophils and rapists are in one’s area, (their location and names). We need to get that websites out to the public. Could the websites run across the screen on the bottom?

    Thanks for all your hard work and concern with this area to protect our children from these evil people.


  27. I meant to post this earlier, excuse me. If you have a blog, consider adding a Missing Children Java Banner. It presents a new missing child’s name and face every few seconds. For instructions on how to add it to your web page or blog:

  28. Camryn Danielson says:

    I often wonder (not that the parents are at fault) why some kids are even out alone? I never let my kids out alone for the reason of safety. Parents need to be more aware of danger! I am called over protective all the time and I thank them for it, I don’t think when it comes to your kids you can ever be too present or take too many precautions. This is the most important thing you will ever do in your life so do it full throttle!!!!

  29. sheryl says:

    Dr. phil, today show was a great one! i have two little boys that mean the world to me. the show just let me know the thing i was doing where right. even though my husbend and some family say i’m over thinking things. i was almost abduted as a at the age of 5. just the day before the guy tryed to take me. my mom talked to me about safety. had she not done that i may have been dead today. only thing that i think is school need to take this stuff more seriously.. my school thought i was over acting. but the next week a little girl went missing. she was found dead, she was from the same school. so to those parents don’t stop telling them even if they till you oh mom. my mom save my life by doing what she did.

  30. Natalie says:

    …And keep in mind that every day when you send your child to school,
    PRAY with him to God , Who is only GUARDIAN ANGEL- we can rely on!!!

  31. Angie says:

    Dr. Phil, Do you know of any kind of “chip” GPS tracking system that we have or that is being worked on that could be implanted in our child? I know it may sound bad by some people, but if it is safe and could save my childs life I would b willing to do it.

  32. Mitzy Roberts says:

    Angie what about a tracking device in the kids backpack does it have to be implanted? When teenage sister was under my care I mdae her keep her cell on her at all times even though her school didn’t allow it. It was for when she had to walk to and from school.

    Dr Phil I am having a problem logging in to your site. It is really aggravating because I really need to post something on the message boards.

  33. Leslie says:

    To even think people are blaming the mother, shame on them. She is one of the strongest, most real persons i have ever seen, the raw emotion is exactly and nothing but pure and honest love. We are praying for her. I could not stop shedding tears even when i saw the self defense to teach our children!! It is a reality that shouldnt be!!!! How sad and horrible that we live in a society where we have to teach that. We lock up these predators, give them 3 a day, cable tv, then let them back out on the streets!!! Anyone that does any harm to a child should lose all rights!!! Give them a prison in Greece or Mexico, a dark damp hole never to see daylight again, bread and water. Maybe with stiffer punishment this would not be such a epidemic and we would not have to teach the chihauha fit.

  34. Kathy says:

    One thing I have always taught my children (6,15 and 19) is to listen to their “belly siren” it is their basic instincts, but hard to teach a child. We called it their “belly siren” because it would alert them when needed and we identified when they felt it on a daily basis and what to do if they felt it (leave, find an adult, etc) I always explained that they didn’t have to know why their belly siren was going off or what it meant, but what safe steps to take when they were alerted! I also never talked to them about “strangers” but rather, you don’t go with ANYONE unless your mom and dad know – whether you know them or not. And you never have to speak to ANYONE or hug,etc if you don’t feel comfortable. We had a short list of family members that would be the ONLY people to pick them up from school in case of an emergency so anyone else would be lying if they said that. They always knew who would come if there was an emergency. And I accompanied all field trips until I felt comfortable with their own decision making – teachers try hard, but off campus with 20+ kids is too many for any one teacher to watch out for!

  35. Linda Rose says:

    You would think at my age I would know better! This morning I went for a walk which is nothing wrong or unusual of its self. I always tell my husband where I am going just in case I don’t make it back he would know where to look for me. It was no different this morning.

    Where I live is not heavily populated. Most houses are along a main paved road. Off the main road are several dirt roads without many houses and lots of woods.On my return walk home the sun had come out and it is a beautiful cool sunny fall day.

    I approached one dirt road that leads to the ocean beach. It goes down through fields and behind empty houses. It circles around about a quarter mile; horse shoe shape; coming back up to the pavement. It is isolated.

    For some reason I suddenly decided I would veer off and take the dirt road and go to the ocean. The thought did enter my head NOT to do this! I usually listen to my thoughts but for some reason I dismissed it. I remember thinking it is such a nice day I will just take the senic route home.I will be alright! I did this against my own inner warning.Because I wasn’t where I said I would be my husband wouldn’t know where to look for me if anything happened.

    Half way along this road all of a sudden out of a field came a big man walking a very large dog which looked like a Malumute/ Huskey cross! I immediately stopped and looked at this stranger with a dog less than ten feet from me! Inside I was PANICKING but tried to remain calm on the outside!

    ” Nice day.” I said evaluating this stranger and wondering what way I should go to get by him?

    His reply was very strange,” I hate to see a woman walking alone in an isolated place since the coyotes recently killed a woman walking alone.” That was 400 miles from here in Cape Breton , I’m thinking! Although we have coyotes here too.

    Then he starts towards me and asks if I want to pet his dog? He assures me the dog will like me! By now I am very scared!

    I immediately put up my hand and said, “Stop, right there! I don’t want that dog near me!” At the same time I started moving back and to one side trying to move out of contact with both of them but keeping my eyes on them.”

    I had my hand in my pocket on my police whistle. This thing is so loud it can be heard a quarter mile away and I knew my husband would hear it because he was working outdoors. I didn’t show the whistle though.

    Instead I lied to the man. I said I had a can of mace in my pocket and would use it on his dog unless he let me pass! I said I don’t trust dogs especially huge ones.He said again I shouldn’t be out there alone! I said,” You know you are right! My husband will be here shortly looking for me because I am late now.”

    I continued moving slowly until I was on the other side of them. He turned but changed his mind and disappeared back into the field. I hurried to put distance between us! The shore is all rocks in places and I literally skipped over the rocks and then ran when I got to solid ground.
    I still had a 1000 feet to get to the nearest house and ran all the way there! No one was home so I stayed out of sight behind their garage and waited to make sure I wasn’t followed. Then I ran home!

    I reported this to the police which is useless here because there is only one police car on duty in the 150 sq. miles of the county! If anything happens and they are on the other end of the county they aren’t able to come quickly.

    This man may have been harmless and his dog too.But because of his strange talk and the fact he was a stranger my inner alarm was on over load! Here we know all the neighbors because the population is small. Strangers aren’t seen much walking around here.



    The other thing was I HAD FORGOTTEN IT IS NOW HUNTING SEASON. I COULD GET SHOT BY STRAY BULLETS! Usually I never walk near woods and fields during hunting season.

    For thirty years I have roamed the country and woods here alone or with a dog and never encountered anyone. There was nothing to fear. I could go for miles and see no one. I have been out walking both at night and during the day time.

    But times have changed. People get killed here too. And now we also have to be careful of coyotes. They used to fear people but not anymore. They come near houses and will kill cats and dogs. The woman attacked and killed in Cape Breton was the first we heard of coyotes attacking a person. But now it has happened the coyotes can’t be taken for granted.

    I will be carrying a can of Raid bug spray with me besides my whistle if I go walking again. It would make a big sting for either man or beast if sprayed in their eyes.

    The bottom line is I should have known better to go alone where I did. It was a last minute careless descision that could have gotten me into a lot of trouble. Next time I will listen to my inner self when I get those warning signals. Right now my husband doesn’t want me to go anywhere ever again alone! I can’t really blame him.

  36. Dana says:

    Last night I caught your segment with Deina Thompson. I was shocked at the end of the segment when Deina said that she’s received hate mail. I can’t believe there are people out there who have actually taken time out of their own lives and time to put ink to paper to tell this mother that she was at fault for her daughter’s murder and should be put in jail!

    I would foremost want to tell Deina Thompson that under no circumstance, no how, no way, is she responsible for her daughter’s death. The person whose hand murdered Somer is solely responsible. Deina, like many, many, many parents, allowed her children to walk to and from school because the school does not provide bus service to their neighborhoods. Should the school be labeled murderous for not providing the bus service? Of course not. And so, of course, neither should Deina. I feel compelled to tell her so and hope you will pass this message on. It seems the hate mail writers are way more resourceful than me…I can’t even find an address to send this to her!

    With that said, I had to examine why people would put the blame on Deina in the first place…and then go so far as to send her hate mail to tell her so?!

    Then I recognized the link between this occurrence and my work with the Tomgirlz. Through the Tomgirlz chapter books, and particularly the one titled ABBEY’S TURN, I look at the issues of bullying and teasing. It is a children’s book and bullying is most often thought of as a child’s problem, but bullying occurs at all stages in life. In fact, it is often said that parents need to be part of the solution. I believe that it is adults like these who wrote those letters that teach children the bullying behavior in the first place and unwittingly perpetuate the problem. The fact is that anyone writing hate mail to Deina Thompson accusing her of causing her daughter’s murder is bullying her.

    Bullies almost always seek a victim to tear down in order to build themselves up in some way. They do not have enough confidence or belief in their own dreams and goals, so they spend their time instead lashing out against someone else. Does this really make them feel better? I doubt it…but it does work in most cases to make the victim feel really, really bad.

    And so, Deina Thompson, cry for your beautiful daughter (who I can see exemplified the spirit of the Tomgirlz), but do not shed one tear of guilt that these people would put on you to cover up something they themselves feel guilty about in their own lives. Know that their words express the pain of their own problems and have nothing to do with you. Do not allow yourself to be victimized all over again. Instead people should thank you for your courage by refusing to accept the victim label and speaking out for all children to help us keep them safe.

  37. Amanda says:

    I have been thinking of a way to teach my kids about “stranger danger”. We tell them not to talk to strangers but then turn around and tell them to say bye to the mail man, not to take candy from stranger and then take them trick-or-treating. How do you get them to do this and listen? It was nice to hear it from someone else in a way that a 4 and 6 year old can understand it. I am a mother of 4 so I can not keep my eye on my kids at all times and it is nice that if something would happen to either of my two oldest boys (the other two are babies) that I think that they would fight as hard as they could. I do have one that does have a speech problem and I am afraid that no one could understand him. These boys mean the world to me and I count myself lucky to be called “mom”.

  38. Debbie says:

    I am one of those people who can tell their children that “everyday I walked to school uphill both ways”. As a child of the ’70s, I was never really told about stranger danger. Although I knew not to accept candy from strangers. Dr. Phil, I am so glad that you were on Diena Thompson’s side. We live in a walking community so there is no bus system for the school. As much as I COULD drive the kids to school, I have faith in my 9 and 6 yr old boys. The DO walk with a group of 7 kids. I do feel guilt with leaving my 6 yr old. I still struggle with the thought of him walking even with the group. I know that he and my 9yr old have fought along the way. The walk about 1 mile to school, just like Somer. Fortunately there are no accused offenders living around that I know of (I did research). But there is a busy street along the way. Our school has adopted the “Safewalk Program” which helps should an unfortunate situation happen. The lady on your show with the self defense actions a child should take (legs kicking, on the ground). That should be ingrained into our childs heads. All kids know the “Stop, Drop and Roll” routine if kids should catch on fire. This stranger defense plan should also be as routine. How can we do this so that we can get EVERY school to practice stranger self defense?

  39. Martha says:

    I have experienced an awful lot of tragic events in my 49 years, but I’ve coped, kept a positive attitude and persevered. However I honestly do not think I could survive the loss of a child the way these parents have. It is an incomprehensible heartache that would break me. Bury my child and they’ll bury me. I don’t see how these parents have made it this far! God bless and keep every one of you.

  40. Ann Davis says:

    Dr. Phil, I too am a mental health professional (currently unemployed) and a brand new mother. I worked in the area of bereavement before being laid off and I must say that working with parents that have lost their children through death was some of the most emotional work I have ever done. Stories of missing children always tugged at my heartstrings, but being a mom mysef now, I cannot imagine losing my child. I too know that I would not be able to cope and it too is my achille’s heel.

  41. Ahh I poured my feelings out to all of you who would read this, found some great scriptures that I hope will bring some measure of comfort and a hope for the future.. But I neglected to type in that code and lost it all.. Anyhow I just want to say my heart breaks for all of the families who have lost a child, small or large it’s a terrible thing.. And I want you to know that God made a serious garauntee by means of his Son’s shed blood that he will get humans out of this mess we are all in.

    Fact is the scripture clearly shows us Death is God’s enemy.. and the The ONE in Revelations 21:3,4 gives us a promise that we can realy on with out a doubt..

    There is nothing that happens in this system that God’s Kingdom will not remedy.. No more Mourning nor Pain anymore.. that means a LIFE far different than the one we ALL live now.. Even our Dr Phil with his wealth can tell you that we ALL Suffer in this world.. So God being the loving Heavenly Father that he is, see’s the Pain that people suffer, he is not going to allow all this injustice go on forever because then he would be unjust.. and We know he is Supreme RIghteousness and above all GOD IS LOVE! So hold on.. weep.. Understandably So, but do not weep without HOPE!

    (1 Corinthians 15:26) 26 As the last enemy, death is to be brought to nothing.

    (Revelation 21:3-4) 3 With that I heard a loud voice from the throne say: “Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them. 4 And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”

    May the God of ALL Peace comfort you in your time of great sorrow..

  42. Amber says:

    My children and I were watching this program together, and I (and especially my children) found the information very useful, in terms of teaching them how to protect themselves in a situation of Stranger-Danger. I have three young children, ages 9, 5, and 3 years old. I myself am very shy, where on the other hand, my children will talk to ANYONE. This frightens me everyday. I’ve bought books and we talk about what happens if they are approached my a stranger, but even still they are very comfortable talking to anyone. Lately, I’ve showed them different programs on television, from the news (with restrictions of course), to show them the actual reality of stranger’s and what they are capable of doing. The certainly understand that stranger’s exist, but they are still comfortable around anyone. Once we watched your show, I could see my children were able to quickly understand and apply what your guest speaker showed the children what to do if approached by a stanger. I think seeing how easy it was for them to use these tools provided, allowed them to have an awareness and confidence among themselves. They immediatly tried the techniques provided. I would love it if you guys were able to do a FULL show on teaching kids on what to do if approached by a stranger. For my kids, they seemed to learn and apply the techniques best after watching another child demonstrate, verses what my husband and I have done to educate them. Of course, as all parent’s know, our kids seem to listen more to someone else’s advice, before they listen to ours.

    Thanks for a great show!

  43. Concerned says:

    Since having watched this show, I keep remembering when, as a pre-teen, I was lured into a man’s car. I was so glad you talked about how children should be taught to listen to their inner bells and whistles! Perhaps it would help someone to know the phrase that man used to override the warning in me. After I had refused several times, he said, “Your father would want you to.”

    That one statement moved him out of the category of “stranger”, in my mind. It seemed he knew my parents, which made him seem more in the category of a distant relative, a school official, or a babysitter – adults I didn’t really know but whom my parents had taught me to obey. And wanting to do as my father instructed, I complied.

    The bells and whistles were soon confirmed, but thankfully, I was able to get out of the car in time. I’m writing now because I’ve come to realize that I’d feel better if parents were aware of this trick sometimes used to lure children.

  44. Sandra says:

    Great article on How To Protect your Children

  45. Robin Davis says:

    I am visiting South Carolina & I heard about a 5yr old given to her mother was used in a human trafficing scheme involving sex by her mother. She was recently found dead in a field. The father is suffering horribly. I feel so much remorse for this family. She evidently snowed the father into thinking she was trying to make something of herself. Which is y she had her. I know he must blame himself tremendously!! Dr.Phil I would love to see you help this poor man. I just can’t phathom the amount of guilt & so forth he must be feeling. I know he prob needs help & from what I have seen & heard on TV he is deserving of it. I’m referring to the Shaniya Davis case. SOOO sad & horrific!!! Please help this family Dr.Phil. They deserve it. Thanx.

  46. Carletta Doherty says:

    Dr.Phil I love your show,
    Sence your show aired last week concerning abducted children I have been wanting to email you. All your advice was GREAT for parents. But you left out 1 advice to tell their children.
    That is they cant totaly trust their friends.
    You see I taught my children everything I could think of concerning staying safe.
    I Never told them their friends could also hurt them.
    On July 12-1985 I became a Mother of a murdered child…My one and only daughter was killed drowned 1 1/4 mile from home by a neighborhood boy he was one of my sons classmate and friend.
    He was only 12 soon to be 13 when he killed my beautiful daughter Christina. She was 6 yrs 11 months when killed.
    To me at the time it was unheard of for a child that young to kill another child..
    My life has been a nightmare, the void never goes away….
    And of course the San Bernardino, police dept screwed up the investagation so badly there will never be an arrest, unless their is a confession…Its been 24 long years it is my faith in God that carrys me through…
    Thank you so much for your show Carletta

  47. kathleen says:

    I also am upset about the murder of little 5yr old Shaniya Davis in N.C. I say the needle in their arm doesn’t come soon enough for her mom and her sister’s ex-boyfriend. Just throw them both in general population and let the inmates rip them apart. It will save us all alot of wasted tax money housing these fools.
    Sorry but that’s the way I feel about these loosers.

  48. melissa says:

    Im glad i have never had a child abducted but i had the scare of my life when my oldest son was 7 or 8 we went to an amusement part and he got seperated from us and i was so scared. it was closing time and a lot of people were missing i was so frantic. we looked and looked for what might have been minutes but felt like hours, then off in the distance we heard over the loud speaker will the lost parents of (my son) come to the lost parents office. i ran so fast my heart felt like it was going to pop out of my chest. when i saw him i wanted to hug and punish him in the same time but i was crying and so happy to see him. I do pray for all the missing children and also look at the wall at our local walmart to see if i know any of them. I send my praires to all parents who go through something like this.

  49. PATTI says:


  50. Carolina González says:

    Hi, my name is Carolina González. I’m a Michael Jackson’s fan and I’d like to talk about the business of pedophilia in USA. All accusations against MJ were based on GET MONEY, NOT JUSTICE. Evan Chandler, Jordan Chandler, June Chandler, David Schwartz, Bianca Francia, Jason Francia, Barry Rothmann, Larry Feldman, Janet Arvizo, Gavin Arvizo, Víctor Gutiérrez. ALL OF THEM sold their souls for money. Why DA Office did not investigate the Chandlers and the Arvizos’s accusations? Why did NOT PUNISH THESE PARENTS for charge civily and not criminally?. For me, as a foreigner, I see American Justice as a big and profitable business. Now, how can American Justice apply the law if they (DA Office) let a group of people became a crime into a business, even the alleged abused children (Jordan Chandler and Jason Francia) cashed the insurance check. The children just not thought in the eventual MJ’s alleged victims because they were not abused by MJ. They are so guity as their parents, nobody who had been abused, would cash insurance’s money. Only who falsely charge someone, would do that. ALL FOR MONEY, NOT JUSTICE.

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