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By Sauntrie Abellera, 16, Bishop Conaty—Our Lady of Loretto HS
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Illustration by Oscar Rodriguez, 18

It’s weird that so many girls were kidnapped this summer, with eight major abductions in the news. It’s freaking out a lot of people.

The biggest news story that caught my eye was when a stranger abducted two teenage girls at gunpoint from Lancaster in the middle of an August night. Alerts flooded the television that morning. Many people feared the worst.

That was the first thing I heard when I woke up that day and turned on my television. My eyes were glued to the set. News of the abduction flashed on freeway signs and nearly every news channel, because of Amber Alert, a media-notification plan prompted by the 1996 kidnapping and murder of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman in Arlington, Texas. Reports flew in that the missing girls were 16 and 17. I felt scared. I used to think kidnappings could never happen to me, but when it happened to people close to my age, I realized it could happen to anyone.

I listened to the missing teens’ friends talk to reporters, because I wanted to learn more about them. The friends cried and wanted the teens to come home safely. The kidnapped teens were older and I thought they’d be fine, because it’s usually the young children, like Danielle van Dam and Samantha Runnion, who are missing for days and then killed.

By afternoon authorities found the two girls in Kern County and shot the abductor to death. He was driving them through the desert to kill them, police said. I was so happy the girls were found.

But I had no idea how the abductions would horrify my friends and me.

A few days later, I planned a trip to the movies with my friend, Jung. She was freaked out about the kidnappings and wanted to postpone the movie. She didn’t want to walk to the theater alone. When I asked her if she was scared someone would kidnap her, she said, "No, because it can’t happen to teenagers."

Teens are fearful

I don’t blame Jung for being scared. The kidnapping has opened up fears that some teenagers have. My friend Kathrine said she couldn’t sleep for a few days after she heard the story of the missing teens. She wanted her sister to be by her side when she went outside. My friend JungEun’s parents won’t allow her to go out unless she’s with an adult.
The stories have scared Chelsea Sanders, 13, of Marlborough School. She always makes sure the doors are locked at home and worries about being kidnapped.

"The other night I thought the ice cream truck was following me. I was on my bike and rode home as fast as I could," she said.

Some people aren’t worried about being kidnapped. My friend Ralph said it was a girl thing and isn’t concerned about it happening to him. I couldn’t believe how barbaric his thinking was. He laughed it off and said, "Well, I’m a guy."

But another guy friend thinks along the same lines. My friend Eneyew said that girls are more at risk because they aren’t as strong as guys and can’t fight off the kidnapper.

"Guys can resist more than girls," Eneyew said. "Besides, guys don’t rape guys," he said.

I’m not worried about getting kidnapped, but I’m aware that it can happen to me and anybody else. If I were kidnapped so many self-defense techniques would raid my head—kick, scream, run and plead for my life. I’d go Jackie Chan on him.