Nearly 800,000 children are reported missing in the United States every year. Many are abducted by family members; others are taken by violent predators and sex offenders. This is an ongoing problem that affects us all.
May 25, 2010 is National Missing Children’s Day. It’s a chance to reflect on the widespread problem of child abduction, and consider what we can all do to keep kids safe. To help, PeopleFinders is happy to offer a few child safety tips.
Safety Starts At Home
Parents usually do everything possible to ensure their kids aren’t home alone, but now and then it is inevitable. Before you leave the house, make sure your children are prepared.
Explain to your children that they should never answer the door when home alone. If your kids are allowed to use the phone, stress that it is not okay to tell a caller they are unsupervised. You may not want your children to answer the phone in your absence, which can be accomplished by simply turning off the ringer.
Keep a list of emergency numbers next to your primary phone. The list should include your direct line, 911 and information for trusted adults who live nearby. Tell your children that they should call these numbers, in order of importance, if they believe they are in danger.
Babysitters and caregivers are an ideal solution for parents who don’t want to leave children home alone, but you should thoroughly investigate anyone before they spend time with your kids. Ask friends for recommendations, and run a Comprehensive Background Check on every possible candidate to learn important details about their past.
Show Kids The Way
Once your kids are old enough to walk to school alone, show them the best route. Walk with them and point out key landmarks to make the path more memorable. Identify any homes or other safe locations they can run to if they are ever threatened.
Taking your kids out for the day can be a lot of fun, but children are vulnerable while in public. Tell your children to look for security guards, police officers or even store clerks if they get lost. Agree to meet at a specific location if you are ever separated. Go over these scenarios several times to make sure your kids understand how to react without panicking.
Give Kids Information
Even younger children absorb information quickly, so provide them with the details they need to find you in an emergency. Teach them their name and phone number, and your full name so they can have you paged while out shopping.
In stressful situations a child may have trouble remembering specific details, so write your name and phone number on a piece of paper that your child carries at all times. That way a security guard or another responsible adult can reach you immediately if they find your child.
Tell Kids About Stranger Danger
It is essential to warn kids about the possibility of danger from adults they don’t know. Your children must understand that it is never okay to get into a car unless you’ve given them permission. They should also be aware of other safety hazards, such as accepting food or any other item from a stranger.
Let your kids know that if they are ever grabbed, threatened or told to go somewhere with a stranger, they should scream and run away. This will draw a lot of attention, which is exactly what a predator doesn’t want.
Every day more than 2,000 kids are reported missing. If you would like to learn more about how you can help protect children, please visit The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Thank you for reading the PeopleFinders People Search blog.