Its a parent's biggest fear…Their child is missing. The thought has gone through every parent's mind. What would happen if my child was abducted? We all have seen the terrifying stories on the news. We feel for the mother who is going through it, but then we continue with our everyday lives, thinking that this could never happen to ME. The reality though is it can happen to anyone, anywhere. I used to think child abductions only happened in big cities where the crime rate was high or to parents that didn't watch their children closely enough. The reality is it CAN happen to you. This is a horrifying thought! The good news is there are things we can do to protect our kids and steps we can take prepare for such an event.
Last night while listening to the radio, I heard a commercial. A mother was at the park with her young daughter. She turned away for a minute and when she looked back her daughter was no where to be seen. Panic set in. She yelled the little girls name over and over. Then she heard a tiny giggle from on top of the slide. This story ended good, but it doesn't always. Every mother has at one time or another experienced one of those moments where their heart stops briefly. We find our child hiding or in the next aisle over at the grocery store and we breathe a sigh of relief. We want to be mad but all we can do is hug our kids and be glad they are alright.
Every moment counts when it comes to a missing child. According to The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, 797,500 children (younger than 18) were reported missing in a one-year period of time studied resulting in an average of 2,185 children being reported missing each day. In the last quarter of 2011, the center's Hotline handled an average of 558 calls per day. Since 1984 the toll-free Hotline has handled more than 3.4 million calls.
What We Can Do:
The AMBER Alert Program is a voluntary partnership between law-enforcement agencies, broadcasters, transportation agencies, and the wireless industry, to activate an urgent bulletin in child-abduction cases. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, statistics show the first three hours after a child's abduction are most critical to recovery efforts. If you have a cell phone, you can sign up to receive text messages when there is an missing child in your area through Wireless AMBER Alerts. Since 1997, the AMBER Alert Program has been credited with the safe recovery of 542 children. To date there is a network of 120 AMBER Plans across the country. Do your part and sign up for this! It could save a child's life!
PrayerLine – For Missing Children A great site set up by a collection of Christians who are moved by a deep compassion for missing children and their families. Submit a prayer request either through this website or via text message and they will pray for the missing child.
Teach Your Children about "Stranger Danger"
"Stranger Danger" is commonly used to refer to the important topic of teaching children about strangers. Not all people unknown to them are necessarily dangerous. Teach your children the difference between "good" and "bad" strangers in terms they can understand. Some examples of "good strangers" are police officers or teachers. Let your child know that there are more "good strangers" than "bad strangers" to ease their fears. Tell them if they are approached by a "bad stranger" trying to lure them in or physically take them, to YELL FOR HELP, run, or get the attention of an adult.
Other Tips from MyChildSafety.net
- Know your name, address, and phone number.
- Use the buddy system – avoid walking anywhere alone.
- Trust your instincts – if you feel you are being followed or something is not right, seek help immediately.
- If a stranger approaches you, you do not have to speak to him or her. Never approach a stranger in a motor vehicle. Just keep walking. Do not accept candy or any other items from a stranger. Never walk off with a stranger no matter what he or she tells you.
- If someone is following you try to remember the license plate of his or her vehicle and immediately tell a trusted adult.
- If a stranger grabs you, do everything you can to stop him or her from pulling you away or dragging you into his or her car. Drop to the ground, kick, hit, bite, and scream. Do whatever it takes to attract the attention of others who can help you. If someone is dragging you away, scream, "this is not my dad," or "this is not my mom."
Child Safety ID Kits:
Request a free Child Safe Kit and record your child's vital statistics and urgent medical information in one convenient, safe place. If your child should be reported missing, you will immediately have all the important information about your child ready so authorities can help find them. Want to know where to get one? You can contact your local police department or visit one of these sites to get one:
YourSafeChild.com This site provides affordable child ID products for parents as well as some essential child safety tips, a safety quiz, and a list of helpful agencies.
McGruff Safe Kids McGruff the Crime Dog's site with state of the art ID Kits for very low cost! These kits come with fingerprint ink and strips, DNA collection tips, and some fun advice for your child to stay safe with McGruff the Dog
Child Safe Kit® Here, fill out a simple form with your name and address and your FREE Child Safe Kit will be sent to you!
How to Protect Your Child from childsafekit.com
- Approach the subject of safety in a non-threatening way, so that your child is not fearful of dangerous people or situations, but cautious and aware.
- Open communication is the key. Encourage your child to trust their intuition and to be able to tell you when something is wrong.
- Make sure your child knows his or her full name, address and phone number, where you work and how you can be contacted. Teach them how to dial 911 and use a cell phone in an emergency situation.
- Inform your child of the rules pertaining to strangers. Let your child know that adults should not ask children for help nor can they threaten them. They should never approach an unknown car or go anywhere with an adult they do not know.
- Never label clothing, backpacks or personal items with your child's name. A stranger can use this information.
- Put a system in place on what to do if you and your child are separated in a public place.
- Know where your child is at all times and remember to update your child's records every 6-12 months.
Do you have a plan in place in case your child is abducted or becomes missing? Do you have a Child ID Kit filled out for each of your children? Tell us about the precautions and steps you take!
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series: Internet Safety and your Children. As parents we all worry about what our children sees and does on the internet.