These 2 photo's appeared in the Daily Telegraph
along with the story. Above shows the disturbing
footage of James Bulger being led away by his
offenders in 1993. Below is the image of the
5 year old boy in Sydney leaving the shopping
centre with the alleged offender (July-2004).
Evil Stalks The Mall
-Shopping centres can be a magnet for predators-
It's a hellish game of hide and seek, which started because you were in a hurry-
all you needed was one thing then you were going to take the kids home and get dinner started...and it's only now you've turned around, that it's dawned on you one of them is missing. So you start calling out for him, confident that at any second he'll appear with that toy car you've told him 12 times he can't have.
But then he doesn't come when you call- Not the first time, or the second time, or the 3rd. And the panic, when it comes, descends from nowhere. Your mind addled as it is, is now fixed determindedly on two things: What if someone's got him, and where on earth is he?
It's a nightmare scenario few parents will fortunately ever have to contemplate for more than the couple of minutes it takes to find their child.
But before that happens, they could be forgiven for letting their mind flick back to the events of February 12, 1993, which led to the murder of English toddler James Bulger. The two- year- old's abduction from a Merseyside shopping centre made headlines around the world, not least because his attackers were two 10- year- old boys who subjected him a particularly vicious death.
What made thier crimes particularly chilling was the public release of a series of stills from a security video in the shopping centre at the time.
The film clearly shows Jamie holding the hands of Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, the two boys who were convicted of killing him.
Yesterday Australians were similarly horrified by security footage from Big W at Chullora, in south west Sydney, showing a five- year- old boy following a young man past a row of trolleys and out of the store on Monday afternoon.
When the boy emerged from a nearby disabled toilet minutes later, he was sobbing.
As he and his family struggled to come to terms with the alleged attack, a 16- year- old boy from Greenacre appeared in the Cobham Children's Court yesterday, charged with two counts of aggravated sexual assault, one count of aggravated indecent assault and one count of detain for advantage.
The lead up to the incident, caught on video, shows the limits to the usefullness of security videos.
The technology can help in identifying the attackers but there's nothing it can do to stop them in progress.
On Wednesday, Child Protection and Sex Crimes Squad boss Kim McKay said last Monday's assault should be a reminder to all parents to always be vigilant about knowing their children's whereabouts at all times.
"(They must) be aware that there are people out there who are very good at approaching children, knowing what to say to lure them away," the Detective Superintendant said.
While the presence of security guards in stores can act as a a deterrent to would be offenders, industry experts say they can't be relied on to stop all attacks. personal security expert Brent Sanders, author of 'How danderous Men Think', says part of the problem for parents is explaining that not all adults could be trusted.
"When they're so little like that, they don't have the worldly experience to be able to identify the good situations from the bad ones," he said.
"Contrary to public perception, offenders of this nature don't use fear as a weapon, they use trust.
"It's a really tough one for parents to ward against because these offenders prey on the kids' trust."
For shopkeepers who are serious about making their stores safe for families, it's difficult to enforce security without impeding on the customer's right to privacy. Although most complexes contacted for this story refused to comment, a Westfield spokeswomen said that the safety of patrons was 'critical'.
"We have a range of security procedures in place at our shopping centres, from policing for shoplifting, in dealing with more serious matters," she said.
Peter Morell - co- founder of Movement Against Kindred Offenders (MAKO), argues shopping centres should be doing more to stop potential abductions and assaults while in progress.
"In America they have an Amber Alert, where if a child goes missing, everything stops and the shopkeepers are all alerted by loudspeaker announcement, of the details of the child, the abductor and his car," he said.
"It has saved children from being potentially murdered over there and it's definitely something that should be looked at."
According to MAKO statistics, most paedophiles will abuse between 45- 130 victims, and as such, Mr Morell says there is every likelihood of them striking in public if the opportunity arises.
And much swifter action is needed if offenders are to be caught in the act.
"It really shows the need for vigilance when you're shopping with kids- you can't afford to take your eyes off them," he said.
Avoiding The Parent Trap
**Be Vigilant about knowing where your children are, and teach them to be cautious and aware of their surroundings.
**Teach them safety and survival skills- not to frighten them, but empower them.
**Give them a firm foundation in moral and ethical behaviour so they recognise inappropriate behaviour.
**Talk to them about "good touching and bad touching". Let them know their bodies are special and off limits to others.
** Tell them children are never to blame when someone abuses them. Abusers are extremely manipulative and will say and do anything to satisfy their urges.
**Keep the lines of communication open. If the child reports suspicious behaviour to you, stay calm, do not show disbelief or blame the child, investigate the situation and report any suspicious behaviour.
Let your children know you love them and want to keep them safe.
-Advice provided by MAKO..
Daily Telegraph 23-7-2004