Keeping Kids Healthy Advice
Perhaps nothing is more terrifying to a parent than to think that one day their child may be abducted. Unfortunately, almost daily, we hear reports of missing children or near abductions. Though not every parent has to face the experience of having their child go missing, it is important to teach your child to be cautious without causing him or her to become too afraid or anxious.
According to a study done by the U.S. Department of Justice, ninety percent of all missing children have misunderstood directions, miscommunicated their plans, are lost, or have run away. Of the 10% of missing children that are abduction, the majority have been kidnapped by a family member in a custody dispute. In most cases of abduction, the child knows the person that has kidnapped him or her. About 100 children per year are abducted in the stereotypical way that is portrayed on television and in movies. Only about half of these children come home. *
Tips to help prevent abductions include:
Knowing where your children are at all times and who they are with.
Teaching your child to stay in groups when he or she goes anywhere.
Checking with your local law enforcement to see if there are any sexual offenders in your area.
Keeping custody documents in order.
Having ID photos taken of your child every six months and having your child fingerprinted. Local police departments often sponsor fingerprinting (and sometimes DNA collection) programs.
Keeping your child’s medical records and dental records up-to-date.
Teaching your child online safety and being aware of any “friends” he or she may be talking to on the internet.
Setting boundaries for your child concerning where he or she may go. Supervising your child when at the mall, movie theater, park, public bathrooms and fundraising door-to-door.
Never leaving your child alone in strollers or shopping carts.
Choosing babysitters, day care providers carefully.
Talking to your child about strangers. Make sure he or she knows not to take anything from a stranger or go anywhere with someone he or she does not know even if the person says that they know you.
Telling your child to run away and scream if someone follows him or her or tries to force him or her into a car.
Teaching him or her to say no to anyone who tries to make him or her do something that you’ve said is wrong.
Telling your child to tell you or another trusted adult if a stranger asks personal questions, exposes themselves or makes them feel uncomfortable. Tell your child that it’s ok to tell you even if the other person has made them promise not to or threatened them.
Teaching your child to always ask permission before leaving the house, yard or play area or going into someone’s house.
Teaching your child that an adult should not walk up to a child and ask for directions or help finding a lost pet.
Make sure that your children know their address, phone number and who to contact in case of an emergency.
If you discover your child is missing, first try to remain calm and contact your local law enforcement immediately – the first few hours are critical. Obtain a case number, ask who will be handling the investigation. Ask that your child be entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). Provide the police with a recent photo of your child, a description of when and where you last saw your child and what he or she was wearing. In addition to contacting the police, you may consider calling the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (800-843-5678) for support and advice.