An 11-year-old Arizona girl foiled a kidnapper by demanding a “code word,” causing him to flee once he realized she wasn’t going to fall for his scheme, Fox News is reporting. Now the girl’s mother is crediting that bit of parenting advice with saving her daughter’s life.
For decades now, parenting advocates have encouraged parents to use “code words” as a tool in their belt to keep their kids safe from kidnappers. As Good Housekeeping explains, the concept is beautiful in its simplicity: assign a code word that only the child knows. That way, in the rare event where an adult who isn’t known to the child may need to pick them up, the adult can use the code word and the child can know that the adult is genuine. Any adult who doesn’t know or use the code word is probably up to no good.
Such was the case with an unidentified 11-year-old Phoenix girl — identified by KSAZ-TV Phoenix as being 10, not 11. She says that she and some friends were hanging out at a park when they noticed a man in a white SUV circling around the area several times. More than once he tried to talk to little girls in the park, reportedly covering his face to conceal any identifying features.
When he approached the unidentified 11- or 10-year-old, however, she was armed with a tool to keep him at bay. Specifically, she says, the man tried to tell her that her brothers were in a “serious accident” and that he needed to come with her. Thinking on her feet, she asked for the code word. And when he couldn’t come up with it, he fled.
That bit of quick thinking likely saved her life, says her mother, Brenda James.
“We came up with a code word, and this one time, it saved my daughter’s life. She told me that a guy tried to take her. I never thought it would be used, but I’m proud of her for remembering that and knowing to use that.”
Phoenix police are looking for a white man who is possibly in his 40s, with a short beard, driving a white SUV, possibly a Ford Explorer.
This is not the first time in recent months that a young girl has thwarted a would-be kidnapper through quick thinking. In August, as The Detroit Free Press reported at the time, a Michigan man attempted to kidnap four girls outside of a convenience store, but they screamed, hit, punched and kicked the man until he gave up and sped away.