Kidnapping is a hideous crime that typically targets women and children. While other crimes can have clearer motives, there are many reasons that can be behind an abduction. But why do people kidnap?
In this article, we are going to explore the motives that lead to kidnappings and give you some tips that can prevent you or your loved ones from becoming victims of such a crime.
The definition of kidnapping
Kidnapping is the unlawful holding of someone against their will. Typically, we think of kidnappings as a type of crime that involves the transportation of the victim. However, while that is a common occurrence in kidnapping cases, the definition of kidnapping does not necessarily require an abduction.
For example, when workers revolt and hold their bosses hostage in the workplace (also known as bossnapping), they are committing kidnapping, even though the victim isn’t being moved anywhere.
Although kidnappings do not require transportation, tricking someone into willingly entering a vehicle with the intent of abducting them is still considered a kidnapping.
Why do people kidnap?
Criminals usually commit kidnappings for a variety of reasons. Kidnappings are either committed by people with malicious intent (criminals) or by people that are mentally ill.
For example, a mentally unwell woman might think that a random child in the park belongs to her and attempt to take her. In this example, despite there not being any obvious malicious intent, it is still considered a kidnapping.
While there is no definite answer to the question “why do people kidnap?” we can understand kidnappings a little better if we look into the reasons that can lead a person to kidnap someone.
A brief overview of reasons to kidnap someone
Although these are not the only motives, kidnappings generally happen for one of these reasons:
- For financial gain (demanding ransoms)
- For sexual purposes
- To exert power over someone
- To force them to work
While some of the reasons can be different depending on whether the kidnapping involves a child or an adult (for example, kids are not generally kidnapped for forced labor), most of the time the motives can be quite similar.
Sexual exploitation, for example, is a reason behind many adult and child kidnappings.
Why would someone kidnap a child?
While there are a few different reasons that could lead someone to kidnap a child, the harsh truth is that child abductions usually fall into one of these categories: sexual exploitation or financial gain.
It might seem impossible for us to even imagine harming a child, but kidnappers and child predators function differently from the rest of us.
That being said, let’s take a deeper look into some of the reasons that could cause someone to kidnap a child:
To demand a ransom
Many child abductions are motivated by monetary reasons. However, these types of kidnappings are not equally distributed across the world.
Ransom-motivated kidnappings only make sense in places where the parents of the child are evidently well-off and can afford paying the ransom. That’s why these types of abductions are more frequent in developing nations with noticeable wealth inequality.
But even though it doesn’t make any sense for a kidnapper to abduct a child from a poor family with the intention of demanding a ransom, demanding ransoms from poor families is not unheard of.
For sexual exploitation
Sadly, sexual exploitation is one of the leading causes of kidnappings. Usually, these crimes are committed by someone close to the family (or even by a family member). Pedophiles make use of these friendly connections to gain the child’s trust before committing their heinous act.
However, these crimes can also be committed by random people. We all know the story of a man in a van asking a random child if they want candy. As with every cliché, this story has a sad truth attached to it.
Because of custody battles
The main reason behind child abduction cases is probably not as nefarious as you might think. Most child kidnappings are the direct result of a custody battle. Unhappy with the court’s decision, the losing parent takes the kids and disappears.
The reasoning behind this train of thought can be twofold: on the one hand, they might just be looking for revenge on the winning parent, on the other, they might genuinely think that they have the child’s best interests in mind.
Despite all the reasons we mentioned, there can still be other reasons behind the kidnapping of a child. Infants are kidnapped to be sold to couples unable to have kids; children might be victims of human trafficking schemes.
It is important to be aware of the many variations of child kidnapping. If you ever think something suspicious might be going on, you might want to investigate the matter further.
What are the reasons to kidnap an adult?
Children are not the only victims of kidnappings. Adults (most frequently women) are also victims of this crime.
While some of the reasons can be the same as the reasons behind a child’s kidnapping, adults can also be kidnapped for different reasons:
Adults from poor developing nations are often kidnapped and forced to work against their will.
This usually happens when people fall into human trafficking schemes. Under the promise of a better life and good working conditions, the victims agree to move to a different country for a job. However, once they get there, they have their passports stolen and are forced to work in horrible conditions for minimal pay in order to pay for the trip and their living expenses.
Women from developing nations can also be victims of sex trafficking schemes. It works in a similar way to other human trafficking schemes, although it can take even darker turns.
Women who become victims of this crime are forced to perform sex work in order to pay a fictious debt or simply because they have no other option.
Adults can also be kidnapped to take part in a forced marriage. This is most common in countries such as India or in the Middle East.
Young adults (and sometimes teenagers) are taken by someone to whom they were promised in marriage to. All of this is done under the guise of tradition.
How do you prevent kidnappings?
If you are an adult and you want to protect yourself from kidnappings, the best advice is to always stay aware of your surroundings. Avoid walking alone at night in dangerous locations, and try to avoid job opportunities abroad that might seem too good to be true.
If you want to protect your child from a potential kidnapping, it is important to keep a few things in mind:
If you are recently divorced and were entitled to the custody of your child, keep your custody documents in order. If the other parent decides to kidnap the child, it is a good idea to have everything you need to have the law on your side.
You can also teach them not to trust strangers and make sure they use the internet safely. You should also teach them how to avoid potential predators and what to do in case they feel endangered.
What to do in the event of a kidnapping?
If someone you know has been kidnapped, then the best thing you can do is call the police. Law enforcement agencies are trained to deal with hostage situations – even in cases where the kidnappers tell you not to contact anyone.
If you find yourself a victim of a kidnapping, it is important to try to avoid being moved to a secondary location. The secondary location is usually where the bad things happen. Try your best to fight them off and scream your lungs out.
In the event that you are taken somewhere, it is important to stay focused and try to look for an escape without endangering yourself even further. You might want to consider carrying self-defense equipment to make the kidnappers’ job harder and save yourself.