Polly Klaas Foundation Marks 10th Anniversary of Polly's Abduction With Unprecedented Safety Training Program

Foundation Honors Polly's Memory and Thanks Petaluma with Ambitious Plan to Train Every Child on Confronting Fears, Avoiding Violence

Petaluma - October 1, 2003 - Today marks the 10th anniversary of the abduction and murder of 12-year-old Polly Hannah Klaas from her home in Petaluma, California. Soon after the abduction and community search, the Polly Klaas Foundation was founded and now honors Polly's memory by finding missing children and preventing them from going missing in the first place. Today the national nonprofit announced plans to further honor Polly's legacy by offering proven personal safety training to every Petaluma child age five to 10.

"When Polly was kidnapped 10 years ago, our community and many others from all over the country joined together to help find her," said Eve Nichol, Polly's mother and a founding board member of the Polly Klaas Foundation. "There was an immediate recognition that she was everyone's child and that we are all in this together. This unprecedented outpouring of community support 10 years ago helped create the Polly Klaas Foundation and is the reason we want to give something back today."

Foundation Gives Back

The foundation announced the dedication of more than $40,000 so that every Petaluma child between the ages five and 10 can participate in personal empowerment safety education called radKIDS (Resist Aggression Defensively). This successful national program demonstrates to children realistic and empowering choices to feel confident and remain safe in frightening or threatening situations. The training helps children recognize, avoid and confront uncomfortable, unsettling or dangerous situations.

Children benefit from role-playing as they learn safety skills in scenarios such as being scared at home alone, exiting a building during an emergency, becoming separated from a parent in a public place and more direct threats of violence like attempted abduction, bullying, physical abuse or sexual assault. The training replaces fear and confusion with confidence, knowledge, skills and self-esteem.

"RadKIDS trainings save lives and help return to parents and children the confidence and security they need to feel and be safe," said Paula Skuratowicz, executive director of the Polly Klaas Foundation. "I cannot think of a more fitting way to honor Polly's memory and thank the very community that expressed so much love and support following her abduction."

Foundation History

Founded in 1993 by community members who searched for Polly, the Polly Klaas Foundation dedicated itself to work on behalf of other missing children and their families. The foundation's case work has helped more than 4,800 families reunite with missing children, and it distributes 35,000 safety kits each year to families throughout the world.

In August 2002, the foundation launched Amber Alert Now, a campaign advocating that each state and the entire nation implement the life-saving electronic alerts that are broadcasted via TV, radio and highway signs after a child is abducted. Since the campaign launch, the number of states with Amber Alerts has increased from 14 to 46, and President Bush signed the National Amber Alert Network into law on April 30, 2003.

"Not a day goes by when I don't remember how the community came together with unprecedented compassion and support," said Nichol. "That's why I am so proud of our work advocating Amber Alerts here in California and throughout the nation. And the foundation looks forward to giving back to Petaluma through radKIDS, a program that will inspire confidence and self-reliance in children and give parents peace of mind that their children know what to do when it matters most."

How to Participate in radKIDS

To bring radKIDS to Petaluma, parents and adults who work with children will be trained as radKIDS instructors who can teach the 10-hour program. The initiative aims to train 36 instructors in its first year, and the Polly Klaas Foundation will cover the costs of the three-day trainings and materials.

The Foundation is specifically looking for those already working in a community of children, but all adults interested in the safety children can apply. Adults interested in becoming instructors may contact Candice Smith at the Polly Klaas Foundation, 707-769-1334.

About the Polly Klaas Foundation

Founded in 1993 following the abduction and murder of 12-year-old Polly Klaas, the Polly Klaas Foundation is a national nonprofit that helps find missing children and prevents them from going missing in the first place. We promote public policies, educate the public, and provide families, law enforcement and communities with ongoing support and expertise to protect our children. The foundation is headquartered in Petaluma, California. For more information, visit www.pollyklaas.org or call: 800-587-4357.

Marc Klaas is not associated with the Polly Klaas Foundation. His foundation can be found at www.klaaskids.org.