Butler County parents meet after abduction attempts

WEST CHESTER TWP, Ohio - After three cases of attempted abduction in Butler County, two of which police say are related, a group of Fairfield parents are meeting to learn about survival tactics for their children.

"People started clamoring for ways to show their children self-defense," said Debbie Dennis, owner of Learning Tree Academy in West Chester.

Debbie Gardner, founder of the Survive Institute, will be conducting Friday night's seminar at the Learning Tree Academy in West Chester.

Parents from West Chester, Fairfield and Hamilton contacted Gardner to teach the seminar after two recent attempted abductions in Hamilton and one in Liberty Township.

"This one is I would say by popular demand. These are the people that called her and said this is what we want to do so we got together and put it together," said Dennis.

While in Cincinnati Thursday, Ohio's Attorney General Mike DeWine said there was a link between the Hamilton cases to that of other attempts in neighboring states, including Indiana.

"We're seeing a pattern that's very alarming. This is a guy of about 50 years of age, white, wearing a baseball cap, driving a van that the victims describe as having no windows in it," said DeWine. "He's trying to entice them into the van."

Dewine's comments were a response to findings by members of his Crimes Against Children and Missing Persons unit. The unit discovered several similar incidents of child enticement and attempted abductions happening in Ohio, West Virginia, and Michigan.

When a situation arises, Gardner says parents need to empower their children and not teach them to be afraid and when the time comes maybe even fight.

"In a worst case scenario if that stranger or that creepy person you know doesn't honor fair warnings then you have the right to defend yourself and to strike them," she said.

Gardner says self control helps people think quickly.

"When we are breathing and in control of what we own which is our space then we want to be like the family dog, right. The family dog loves you but when the wrong person is at the front door, 'Bark, bark bark,' it changes personalities and it yaps so that's you and I giving our children permission to say get away from me," said Gardner.

One device that Gardner says can be a good weapon is a cellphone. If thrust against the windpipe it can stop someone long enough for a child to run away, she says.

Below are tips from Attorney General DeWine for parents and children.

If approached by a stranger, Attorney General DeWine suggests that children:

  • Make a commotion; yell "No!" or "Help!" 

  • Run away immediately. 

  • Keep a large distance between themselves and a vehicle, if approached by someone in a car.
  • Take all suspicious situations seriously; Do not be afraid to hurt a person's feelings by screaming or running.
  • If possible, consciously make note of details such as a person's appearance, clothing, vehicle, and license plate.
  • Know that it is OK to tell your parents what happened; do not feel ashamed.



Attorney General DeWine also said that parents should: 


  • Walk to and from school with their children or arrange for them to walk with friends.
  • Know the route their children take to and from school.
  • Walk with their children along the route and identify safe places to go if an incident occurs.
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