Parents' fears 'raised by Bulger case': Children's freedom 'being curtailed'

THE IMAGE of James Bulger being led away by his two killers in a Liverpool shopping centre has imprinted itself on the nation's consciousness - making millions of parents 'irrationally' worried that their children may be abducted.

Despite the relative rarity of child abduction, and the fact that most child abusers are known to their victims, 97 per cent of parents cite abduction as their biggest worry, ahead of problems such as drugs, glue-sniffing or Aids, according to a survey published today.

Almost all parents (98 per cent) believe the world is a more dangerous place for children than when they were young: other factors cited are alcohol, gambling and promiscuous sex.

The survey, by the children's organisation Kidscape, is a follow-up to a report it published last July in the aftermath of the Bulger killing, but before the trial. A year after the murder, it says, video images of two-year-old James being led away 'are still etched on parents' minds'.

Michele Elliott, director of Kidscape, said: 'In interviews with parents, spontaneous recall of those TV images was demonstrated by parents over and over again . . . It seems that the James Bulger case has acted as a catalyst focusing parents' minds on the external dangers facing their children.'

Kidscape describes as depressing the survey findings - based on the responses of 1,000 parents who saw Yell, Run and Tell, a poster campaign sponsored by the Co-op highlighting the dangers of children talking to strangers - confirming previous research by bodies such as the Policy Studies Institute that children are losing their autonomy and freedom. However, it says many parents are now 'actively pursuing' child safety strategies with their children to help them cope with threatening situations such as approaches from strangers.

Of parents who saw the campaign, 95 per cent now teach personal safety strategies to their children: 90 per cent said they would not have thought of this without the campaign.

Kidscape, which has produced a video adaptation of the children's book The Willow Street Kids, showing children dealing with problems such as strangers, bullying and keeping secrets, argues that children should be taught how to cope with strangers in the same way as they are taught how to cross the road.

'What if. . .?' questions - taking a child through possible scenarios such as approaches from strangers or getting lost - were cited by parents as particularly effective, leading to the development of a 'safe plan of action in a calm and non- frightening manner'.

'It's no good just locking your children away with videos for company. You have to teach them practical skills so they can go out and cope with the world,' Jane Kilpatrick, of Kidscape, said yesterday. Children should be taught they can ignore strangers, or shout and run away from them, for example.

The video is available through Co-op superstores or from Kidscape, 152 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1 W9TR, costing pounds 6.99 ( pounds 7.75 including post and packing).

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has over 40 years ...

Recruitment Genius: Weekend Factory Operatives

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This high quality thread manufacturer is curr...

Recruitment Genius: FP&A Analyst

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A market leading acquirer and m...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fully qualified electricians re...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific