Those Stick Figure Family Stickers On Your Car Aren’t Putting Your Children In Danger‏

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We’ve all seen them. The stick figure families on the back window of a vehicle denoting the number of people in your family and possibly, the ages of the kids and what sports they play. Or, the honor student bumper stickers that list what school your child attends and may allude to how old they are. Besides thinking they are a little lame, I’ve never given these stickers much thought. However, there are some who say they could pose a danger to your child by giving out too much information. It seems far-fetched to suggest that by simply knowing you have kids of a certain age, you could be enticing a kidnapper. Statistics bear that out — that it’s really nothing to worry about. But, the media still insists on scaring the shit out of people over something that doesn’t seem too risky after all.

There was a segment on the Rachael Ray Show recently with former CIA officer Jason Hanson trying to terrify parents by telling them these stickers could pose a danger other than making people roll their eyes at a traffic light. Here is the video, from Rachael Ray Show via The Stir:

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Hello, fear mongering. Now, I get what he’s saying — it is the same reason I don’t put my kids’ names on their backpacks. Why give out more information than necessary? Deep down, I know it probably doesn’t make a difference but I do it anyway. That said, it would seem that a potential child abductor could also watch you loading your kids into your car after a Target run and get all the same info that the stick figure family would provide. Is it really so dangerous to have that information splayed on your car? I could not find any studies directly related to car stickers but the general statistics on stranger abduction would suggest that it is rare across the board in the first place. From the Polly Klaas Foundation:

  • Nearly 90% of missing children have simply misunderstood directions or miscommunicated their plans, are lost, or have run away.

  • 9% are kidnapped by a family member in a custody dispute.

  • 3% are abducted by non-family members, usually during the commission of a crime such as robbery or sexual assault. The kidnapper is often someone the child knows.

  • Only about 100 children (a fraction of 1%) are kidnapped each year in the stereotypical stranger abductions you hear about in the news.

  • About half of these 100 children come home.

So, about 100 children are kidnapped by a stranger per year nationally. That number is incredibly small and let’s try to imagine how many of those 100 were because a bad guy saw a stick figure family on your car. Seems a little ridiculous, doesn’t it? Kidnappers will probably go for a child who is an easy target and they don’t need a bumper sticker to help them find that victim. They could just as easily hang out in a school parking lot and see your child that way. Someone could yell out their name, and there you go. So, do you stop sending them to school? Of course not. Should anyone with a stick figure family on their car run out and remove it? Yes, right now, according to Rachael Ray and also, me. Not because you should be scared, but because I think they’re kind of lame. Kidding. Mostly.

The bottom line is, there are a million ways harm could come to your family even though most of them are incredibly unlikely. Odds that your car stickers will lead to your child being abducted are probably infinitesimal. The odds they will contract measles if unvaccinated are much higher, so maybe worry about that instead. At the end of the day, if this video convinces you that these stickers are unsafe and could make it easier for a kidnapper, tear them off. Just know that it probably won’t make one bit of difference as far as keeping your kids safer.

(Image: Getty Images)