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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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Date: 9/20/06
From Michelle Reed, President of the Lawn Greetings Association
Fremont, OH

The more than 600 members of the Lawn Greetings Association are overjoyed to learn that Baby Abby has been returned safely to her mother and that the abductor was found. However, we are very concerned that the “sign in the yard” angle of the story could potentially damage our industry across the nation. Many of our members have been renting celebration signs to families for more than 20 years, and this is the first abduction we’ve heard of that has involved a sign of any type in the yard. It’s important to note that there has never been a situation where an abductor said they took a child because they saw a yard sign displayed.

Unfortunately, there are dangerous people lurking within society and if they’re bound and determined to steal a child, they’ll do so whether or not there is an announcement in the newspaper, a photo gallery on the parents’ or the hospital’s web site, a sign in the yard, an infant seat in the car, a stroller on the porch, or balloons tied to the mailbox. Allowing any stranger into the home is never a good idea.

Lawn greetings can, in fact, alert the neighbors to be more aware, much like Neighborhood Watch signs or Baby on Board emblems on vehicles. Neighbors often know when a family is expecting a child; a birth announcement in their yard alerts the neighbors when the child arrives so those neighbors can keep an extra eye out for the family.

According to the Census Bureau, there are more than 11,000 births per day. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children states that there were 217 reported cases of non-family infant abductions from 1983 to 2002. After extensive research, our association has yet to find any factual statistics which proves that an infant abduction was the direct result of having a Lawn Sign, Stork Announcement, or other Birth Announcement in the yard.

Our businesses are based on celebrating a person’s special time in their life by fun and joyful means in an otherwise sullen society. The chance of an abduction being caused by a sign in the yard is so insignificant that pointing a finger at our trade would be unjustified and could unnecessarily damage the lawn greetings industry.

Again, we’re elated by the safe return of Baby Abby and that the abductor was caught and confident she will be brought to justice.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACTS: Jill Slack-Henry
AGreetingYard.com Lawn Greetings
http://www.AGreetingYard.com
Springfield, MO
Phone: (417) 823-3915
Email: info@agreetingyard.com

Dr. Ken Bausman
Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of Social Sciences
Maryville University in St. Louis
Phone: (314) 529-9429
Email: kbaus@maryville.edu

Consumers need education regarding lawn greetings and kidnapping risk

SPRINGFIELD, MO – Sept. 19, 2006 – The abduction and return of baby
Abigale Woods near St. Louis hasn’t slowed business for a local company
that has decorated hundreds of yards for special occasions since 2002.

Jill Slack-Henry, who runs AGreetingYard.com Lawn Greetings in
Springfield, said customers are still booking dates to surprise loved ones with her unique services, and none have cancelled since hearing of the newborn taken from her rural Missouri home.

“This event is a lot like the terrorist attacks of 9/11 because we shouldn’t live in fear and change the way we celebrate life because one person harmed one family who happened to have a birth announcement in the yard,” Slack-Henry said.

She is a member of the Lawn Greetings Business Owners Forum, a group of more than 600 lawn greeters across the U.S., Canada, and Australia.

“Many of our members have been renting celebration signs to families for more than 20 years, and this is the first abduction we’ve heard of that has involved a lawn greetings display of any type in the yard,” said Michelle Reed, president of the Lawn Greetings Association.

Dr. Kent Bausman, associate professor of Sociology at Maryville University in St. Louis, said in an interview with KSDK-TV in St. Louis Wednesday that he doubts that a birth announcement in the yard instigated this or most other abductions.

“We don’t need to be reacting to this in a closed mouth fashion of don’t put yard signs up, don’t announce to the world I’ve had a baby because these people tend to do their homework before they commit such crimes,” Bausman said in the interview.

Bausman, who coordinates the criminology program at Maryville, said baby abductions are rare, and pregnant women and mothers with newborns should keep that perspective.

“We need to remind folks in the metro area this is an incredibly rare event. So I don’t think expectant mothers have a whole lot to worry about with regard to what’s the likelihood of me being a victim of such a crime,” he told KSDK.

Lawn greetings can, in fact, alert the neighbors to be more aware, much like Neighborhood Watch signs or Baby on Board logos on vehicles.

“Neighbors often know when a family is expecting a child. A birth announcement in the yard alerts the neighbors when the child arrives so those neighbors can keep an extra eye out for the family,” said Reed from her office in Tiffin, Ohio.

According to the Census Bureau, there are more than 11,000 births per day. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children states that there were 217 reported cases of non-family infant abductions from 1983 to 2002.

After extensive research, the International Lawn Greetings Association has yet to find any factual statistics to prove that an infant abduction was the direct result of having a lawn greetings display, stork announcement, or other birth announcement.

“The chance of an abduction being caused by a lawn display is so insignificant that pointing a finger at our trade would be unjustified and could unnecessarily damage the lawn greetings industry,” Slack-Henry said.

“People run obituaries every day to honor loved ones. Rarely do we hear of robberies taking place because the obituary advertised the fact that your family won’t be home during visitation or the funeral service. These cases are very rare, just as kidnapped infants are very rare, and lawn displays in the yards of those kidnapped infants are rarer still,” she said.

The written transcript and video clip of Bausman’s interview with KSDK are available online at http://www.ksdk.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=103922

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Yard Sign Played Role in Kidnapping of Baby Abby
Erika Lyn Smith
BellaOnline’s Missing and Exploited Children Editor

BABY SIGN IN YARD BAD IDEA?
Sep 20, 2006
The woman who took the baby apparently was attracted by a new born baby sign. Would this keep you from placing a sign in your yard? Placing a notice in the paper etc>>>>

What Kind Of Person Steals A Baby?
9/18/2006
By Rebecca Wu
(KSDK) – What would motivate a person to violently attack a new mother and steal her baby?