Your children are precious to you; they're your pride and joy. So like any parent, having a child abducted is your worst nightmare. Although the large majority of people are kind and helpful, a small percentage may be dangerous to children.
You and your children should know how to prevent an abduction, and it's critical for you to be prepared in case the unthinkable actually happens.
Most parents teach their children to not talk to strangers. However, the idea of a stranger can be different to a child. Many children may believe that a stranger must look strange and not normal. Also, there's a chance the child won't trust any stranger, even if they need help. A child lost in a store shouldn't be afraid to ask a store employee for help.
Examples of safety information to teach your child include:
- Strangers look like normal people and don't have to look dangerous
- Children should keep a safe distance away from strangers and their cars
- Children should say "no" when a stranger asks for help with something
- Certain strangers are okay to talk to when help is needed, such as a store employee or a police officer
You can practice with your children in public about who would be a safe stranger in an emergency. The more you reinforce safety information about strangers, the greater the chance your child will be safe from stranger danger.
Steps for Children to Help Prevent Child Abduction
Children can do a lot to help prevent abduction. Some examples include:
- Always walk in groups and not by yourself
- Know passwords that strangers must say before they can take you anywhere
- Memorize important information like phone numbers and addresses to reach your parents or guardians
- Yell and run to a safe place if a stranger makes you uncomfortable and invades your personal space
- Know houses that are safe in an emergency, such as a neighbor, or safe house programs sponsored by many local police departments
Steps for Parents to Help Prevent Child Abduction
There are many steps you can take to lessen the chances of child abduction. Some examples include:
- Teach children about the common ways a stranger may attempt to abduct them, such as presents, candy or finding a lost pet
- Teach them secret password for emergencies
- Pick them up from the bus stop instead of letting them walk home
- Have them play in the backyard instead of the front yard to prevent cars from driving close
- Limit the use of their names on the outside of their clothes or book bags
- Install a home security system
- Report any suspicious people to police
You can also search the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website or the Family Watchdog web site. These web sites let you know if any sexual predators live close to your home.
Information that Will Help in the Recovery of Children
If a child is abducted, the first few hours are the most critical in finding the child. You should have up-to-date personal information and photographs of your children. Fingerprints should be on hand to give to law enforcement.
To help gather important personal information, you can fill out the National Alert Registry Child ID Kit. This kit has room for a recent photo, identification materials and medical information. The kit also teaches you how to take a child's fingerprints.
You can also register your children in the Amber Alert Registry. This registry allows important personal information about children to be accessed immediately by law enforcement. Any time saved will help in the recovery process of the child.
You know in your heart there's nothing more important than your children. Do everything and anything you can to keep them safe with you.
Questions for Your Attorney
- Can I be sued if I hit or physically attack someone who's harassing or threatening my child?
- Is there any way I can prevent a registered sexual offender who lives nearby from walking and driving on my street?
- Should I be concerned about the security of web sites that store my child's personal information?