According to a study done by the Justice department, 359,000 children are reported missing every year. Approximately 70% of those turn out to be short term runaways. Some are parental aductions. Hundreds of missing children are found murdered every year. The pain and heartache the parents feel is incomprehensible, something no parent should ever have to experience. Each and every one of us needs to get involved in locating missing children, whether it be forwarding images over the Internet or just keeping a watchful eye on the children you see. It all helps! Please take a good look at these children and report any information you may have, which pertains to their identity, to the Authorities immediately!
How to keep our children safe
1. Never assume your child will NEVER be abducted.
2. Have your children fingerprinted by your local police department crime prevention unit.
3. Maintain a current photograph of your child, including height and weight.
4. Know who your childs friends are. meet their parents.
5. Keep records of all addresses and phone numbers, update them often.
6. Never leave your child unattended in supermarkets and shopping malls, car or home.
7. Have your child's school establish a "call back program" if your child doesn't arrive at school on time, the school should call to find out the reason for the absence.
8. Talk to your children about the importance of reporting all instances of strangers approaching them in the schoolyard and home.
9. Make sure your children know exactly what to say on the phone if you're not available to take the call, without giving out personal information.
10. Read the booklet, entitled "Say NO!", which is provided by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, Bureau of Early Childhood Services. It's very helpful to anyone who cares about children. It's in PDF format. If you don't have the reader, you can download it here (opens a new window).
What you can do to protect your children
Always keep current photos of your children. Make it a rule in your home - a set of photos every year. They are great for remembering, but also extremely important IF something happens. Know who to call to access dental records, if needed. Just like insurance, you hope you never need it, but you will have it should the situation arise.
Free - Child ID fingerprint set for parents
Send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to:
Headquarters for The Lost Child EBS
9 Redwood Lane
Yutan, Nebraska 68073
Know how your child perceives him/her self. Growing up is hard work and depression, anger, frustration and fear are all part of the job. Stay in tune with your child. Watch your child at play. Notice any changes in the way your child is acting. These are all signs that something may be wrong. Teach your child that, even though arguments will happen, they are not the measure of your love. Give your child secret code words that, when spoken, tell you that your child has reached the breaking point. Make a promise that when your child says the secret word, all loud voices will stop.
Know what your child is doing. Assuming can be a dangerous thing. Is your child telling the truth when they say they are going to the park to play? Are they really staying after school to work on a special project? Even when a parent swears that they have a very open and trusting relationship with their child, children will cover up their activities and hide things from the parent. It's part of growing up, but it is also a very dangerous thing to do. Let your child know that you trust them, but that you will verify, and do it. A quick call to a teacher, a drive by the park will provide answers, and deepen your trust.
Know your child's friends. Have you taken the time to meet their parents? Are you aware of different rules that other parents have, rules that might conflict with those you set down? Is your child spending far too much time at the computer, and seem secretive about the chat rooms they visit? It's important to know who your children know, and the only way to find out is to be involved. Tell your child of the dangers of stranger abduction. Ignorance is NOT bliss in these cases. A few seconds, and your child may be gone forever. This is where your knowledge plays an important part. You need to be aware of the "tricks of the trade." Unfortunately, a pedophile doesn't carry a mark on his forehead. He could be the well dressed stock broker, the softball coach, a church member, a neighbor. Your child needs to know the rules, and stay with them no matter what situation arises.
Your child must NEVER go anywhere with a stranger, no matter how enticing the offer may be. The "tricks of the trade" range from, "Sally," the name being on her notebook, "your mommy told me to come get you. She's been in an accident," to "Can you help me? My kitten is under the car seat and I can't reach her. I'll give you five dollars if you help me." These people are pros. Never forget, they are the enemy. Keep your child prepared.
Your child should ALWAYS let you know exactly where they are. If they go to another place, they must call you and let you know before they go. If you aren't available, they should have other phone numbers to call.
Start NOW to set up a system of emergency communication. Organize with another parent and a neighbor to have the children call them, should you be out of touch. Establish a code word or phrase with your children, something they will always remember, so they KNOW a message came from you. Situations do occur where someone might be required to pick up a child at the mall, or after school. If the person does not know the code word, your child knows something isn't right. (One family used the phrase, "Donald Duck said so." They changed it to another character every few months. Corny, but effective.)
No one wants to admit the possibility, but a child can suffer sexual abuse from family members. The uncle who loves taking the kids to the beach, the cousin who asks to baby-sit. Chances are slim that a family member might take advantage of a child, but the possibilities exist and as long as it does, you need to keep your eyes and ears open. Pay attention to a child who doesn't want to go somewhere with an Uncle, who doesn't want you to leave them with a relative. Family members almost always tell a child that bad things will happen to them should their "secret" become known. That's why you must keep a channel of communication open with your child.
The bad guys are watching your children. A child standing alone at a bus stop, playing alone by the street, a child walking across a parking lot, all are open invitations to a pedophile. In just a few seconds a car can stop, a child can be grabbed, and your life is changed forever. All of us are obligated to watch the children and to watch out for the bad guys. Untold thousands of crimes have been prevented because someone saw something that looked suspicious and they called the police. Neighborhood Crime Watches need your support, neighbors should be advised of your situation at home, just so they know if a strange man talking to your child on the corner is a friend or a foe.
A lot of these suggestions are based on common sense, yet thousands of children disappear, never to be seen again. Children are extremely trusting of grown-ups, they want to believe what they are told. We teach them to respect police officers, respect teachers, anyone in authority, yet we must make them aware of the bad guys. We don't want our children to be afraid of the world, yet we know what dangers lurk around the next corner. For every dangerous pedophile who wants to destroy your children, there are thousands who would willingly give everything to make certain your child is safe.
No words can ever relieve the horror experienced by a parent when a child is lost. You can take steps to lessen the chance that you will ever experience that horror. For your child's sake, for their life, please do it now.
1. Yell, Kick, and Scream - This may seem obvious but many children freeze when they are grabbed by strangers. Kidnappers want children to go along quietly. Yell- This person is a stranger. Kick the kidnapper's foot, groin or knee. Scream.
2. Area Code and Phone number - Make sure your child knows their area code and phone number. Does your child know how to make a collect call or dial in case of an emergency? Teach your child not to give their phone number or address to strangers.
3. Buddy System - A child alone is an easy target. Encourage your children to use the buddy system and to watch out for each other.
4. Current Photos and Records - Get photos taken every 6 months of your children and keep a photo on your person at all times. Fingerprints should be taken by a law enforcement e.x. Sheriff's Dept. Copies of their dental and medical records are a must.
5. Lure Tactics - I have lost my puppy. Will you help me find him? I'll give you $10 if you'll help me put this in the car? Parents, teach your children how to respond to these people. It is best to ignore them, avoid any conversation and run.
6. Family Code Word - Parents, a code word is a lock and key for your child. Your Mom and Dad have been in a car wreck. You need come with me right now! Child, What is the code word? If they don't know the child doesn't go. The child runs away from that person and tells whom ever is responsible for them, teacher or parent, what happened. Get a description of the perpetrator if possible.
7. Separation Plan - Teach your children to go to cashier or ticket booth if they're separated from you while at a mall, amusement park, or any place you travel.
8. Check Route to School - The route to school should be established by a parent and under no circumstances should the child deviate from that route. Avoid alleys, etc.
9. Notify School - Make sure the school will notify you if your child does not arrive at school. Let the Principal know who is authorized to pick up your child.
10. Communication - Keep good communication lines open with your children.
11. Neighbors - Organize a block watch and participate in a safe home program.
12. Child's Clothes - Make a mental note of what your child wears every day! Do not put your child's name on the outside of their clothing because it allows a stranger to become verbally intimate with your child. Put their name on inside of clothes.