For parents nothing is more scary than the thought of a child disappearing without a trace. Thankfully stranger kidnappings are rare. However, we still want to do all we can to avoid this horrific crime happening to us. Here are some things you can implement right now to keep your kids safe from abduction and to help find them quickly if they do go missing.
- Keep up-to-date records of your child’s photograph, height, weight and fingerprints. Update these records every six months or so.
- Don’t use your child’s first name on labels for clothing, lunch boxes, bags, etc. Kidnappers often use a child’s name to establish trust.
- Make a mental note each day of what your child is wearing.
- Keep an up-to-date list of their friends’ names, phone numbers, email addresses and their parents’ contact information.
- When hiring a babysitter, make sure you know who they are and check out their references.
- Never leave a child under the age of 9 unattended at home, in the car or in a public place.
- Accompany young children to the restroom when you are in a public place.
- Tell your child who they should turn to in case of an emergency – identify a neighbor who can be trusted.
- When going on an outing, establish an emergency plan in case your child gets lost. Identify a meeting place if convenient or tell them to stay put until you find them. Make sure they memorize or have your number so they can ask someone to call you. Tell them never to go with a stranger to find you – you will come to them.
- Don’t let your guard down as your child gets older. Many victims of abduction are 10-12 years old. Let your child have some freedom, but follow the list of precautions above. Know where your older child is going and who they are with.
- Consider monitoring your child’s phone to see who they are talking to and where they are going.
- As always, communicate with your child. Tell them about the risks of abduction in an age-appropriate way. Try not to scare them, but make sure they take their own safety seriously.
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