Providence kidnapping reminds families to keep children safe

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — The kidnapping of a 9-year-old Providence girl this week is raising questions for local families

Parents say the kidnapping is their worst nightmare, and experts on children’s well-being say there are ways to make sure it doesn’t happen to your family.

Suelem Rosalino has an 8-year-old son, and was disturbed to hear about a girl almost the same age getting kidnapped.

“As a mother myself I can’t even imagine going through something so traumatic,” she said.

As a social worker and therapist, Rosalino says one way to prevent this is to speak with your children using words they’ll understand.

“I think it’s all in how you speak to your children before you allow them to walk by themselves,” said Rosalino, of Rosalino Counseling. “When I explain to my child who to trust and who not to trust, I say come to me first. Ask Mommy, can I go with this person?”

Stephanie Terry of DCYF says this kidnapping is an opportunity for families to have those difficult conversations.

“The most important thing is not to be afraid to have these conversations, regardless of the age,” she said. “A few minutes of being uncomfortable don’t come anywhere near the terror of something like this happening to your child.”

Terry suggests children walk only on busy streets and with friends or other parents, carrying cell phones or whistles to make noise if there’s a problem.

“We’re afraid of making them fearful but there are some circumstances where it is good to be fearful,” she said. “I think this is an opportunity as a community to think about this and think about ways that we can collectively make our children safe.”

Terry adds there are resources available to parents, like subsidized child care or other after-school programs, to reduce the time your child might be alone.

Categories: News, Rhode Island