A little more than a week ago, there was a very surprising outcome to several old kidnapping cases in the United States. Three young women escaped after being kidnapped about a decade each. One of the victims had been held for 11 years, one for 10 years and the third victim had been held for 9 years. I am sure that most readers have heard about this incident. After being held for so many years, one of the young women was able to escape and notify police, thus saving all three kidnap victims. If you don’t know about this case, you can read more about it here.
As this case has been covered by the media, I heard a statistic used on several different news stations. They said (paraphrasing):
Child kidnappings in the United States are very rare. In 2012, according to FBI statistics, only 411 children were kidnapped by strangers in the USA.
Uh, what? Only 411 children were kidnapped. To me that is a huge number! And, it is thousands of children who get kidnapped by non-stranger, family members. Usually this is in a case where parents are going through a difficult divorce or something of that nature. But, 411 children kidnapped by strangers in one year.
Many of you who read this site either are foreigners living in the Philippines, or are considering making such a move to the Philippines. I would bet that 90% of you who are living here or thinking of doing so have heard from friends and family that you are crazy to move to the Philippines because it is so dangerous!
I remember when I moved to the Philippines, hundreds of people told me I was crazy, even stupid to move to the Philippines. They warned me that I would either be killed or kidnapped here. I was asked how I could subject my children to such danger. I was told that I was not a fit parent, because I had no concern for my kids. Even after 13 years of living here, I still hear this sort of thing from time to time. I’ve been living here for 13 years now, and have never really had any kind of incident that would cause me to be scared of living here.
When I heard the TV coverage of this US kidnapping case, frankly it shocked me that more than 400 kids in the USA were kidnapped by strangers in 2012. I honestly did not think that would be the case. I didn’t think it would be anywhere near that number.
I decided to do a bit of research. I found statistics about Philippine kidnappings on a US State Department Website. It is a website operated by the State Department for the purposes of Diplomatic security. According to this site, in 2011 there were 24 kidnapping incidents in the Philippines. In 2010 there were 41 cases. So, at worst case, the number of kidnappings in the Philippines were only 10% of USA kidnappings of children. The population of the Philippines is about 1/3 of the US population, so on a per capita basis, kidnapping in the USA is more than 3 times more rampant than in the Philippines. And, I am really figuring this in a way that is in the favor of the US, because the 41 (2010) kidnapping cases are all kidnapping cases (adult and children) and the USA figures are only for children.
That’s an eye opener, don’t you think?
So, is the Philippines dangerous?
I have never felt that it was very dangerous during my years of living here. Yes, some types of events are dangerous here, such as elections. But, if you are a wise person and you use proper caution, you avoid getting involved in things like elections or other events that have more danger than normal. Overall, I feel that it is at least as safe being here as it is to live in the States. But, still, almost every day of the week, week in and week out, I get e-mails from people who write and ask me how much danger it would be for them to take a trip here.
Frankly, there are some places in the Philippines that are dangerous. If you are going to Sulu or Basilan, you are putting yourself in unwarranted danger. If you are going to Davao or Cebu, Cagayan de Oro or Baguio, you are probably at least as safe as you are in your home town.
Are you going to get kidnapped if you visit the Philippines, or choose to live here? Well, you might. But, then again you might also get kidnapped in Cleveland, or in Houston or Des Moines. Truth is, if you look at the statistics, you might be shielding yourself from being kidnapped by coming to the Philippines. FBI statistics show that you are more likely to be kidnapped in the USA.