Nov. 2 – Foreign schoolchildren are the potential new targets in child kidnapping cases following an incident at one of Beijing’s luxury compounds this past weekend. On Saturday afternoon at approximately 4:30 p.m., the student was outside the side exit of the Yosemite Villa Estate and a man, unknown to her, came towards her and gave her a hug. She pushed him away but he then attempted to lift her up and drag her into his car. Fortunately a guard and a taxi driver stepped forward to help her and she safely returned home. The incident has been reported to the police for further investigation.
The suspect is described as a 30-40 year old Chinese man of average height and build, short (buzz) haircut, frame-less glasses, wearing a dark-colored jacket and pants, and driving a small dark-colored car.
This incident has prompted schools serving Beijing’s foreign student population to issue warnings to parents and to instruct schoolchildren in self-defense. Teachers at several schools have spoken to Middle and High School students this Monday about personal safety and offered several suggestions:
- Trust your instincts. If you think you are being followed, hurry to a place where there are lots of people, and make plenty of noise. Calling for help is always a good strategy. In unfamiliar areas, watch for exits and stay in well-lit areas. Walk along heavily trafficked thoroughfares.
- If you are grabbed, fight back. Elbows and knees are great weapons. An elbow to the solar plexus or a knee to the groin of your attacker will discourage the assailant. Likewise, personal alarms, whistles and pepper sprays are good tools for thwarting bad intentions.
While the motives for the attack will remain unknown until the culprit is found, the most likely cause would be extortion. A rise in kidnappings of children across China has coincided with tougher economic times, and while foreigners have generally been left alone in China, they seem increasingly to be seen as likely targets for crime due to the overall perception of implied wealth. This is especially true of children attending expensive international schools and living in luxury compounds. Readers with children in China would be advised to make them aware of the need to be alert when in public.