Prevent Child Abduction

Thousands of children will be reported missing in this country this year. Some will be found and returned home; some will not. Child abduction is a tragedy. It devastates the parents. It touches all of us. Learn ways to help keep your children safe.

Recommendations

It is recommended that you should:

  • Know where your children are at all times
  • Never leave children alone in cars
  • Establish strict procedures for picking your children up at school, at a friend's, after a movie, etc. Do not let your children accept rides from people with whom you have not made previous arrangements - even if they say they are a police officer, teacher, or friend of the family
  • Establish a family code word. Tell your children never to go with anyone who does not know the code word
  • Teach your children their full names, your full name, address, and telephone number. Teach them how to reach either you or a trusted adult, and how to call for police assistance
  • Make sure they know how to make local and long distance telephone calls. Even a small child can be taught to dial 911 for help
  • Tell your children about the abduction problem in a calm and simple way, as if you were teaching any other important coping skill
  • Listen attentively if your children talk about anyone they encounter in your absence
  • Have photographs of your children taken four times a year (especially for preschoolers). Make a note of birthmarks and other distinguishing features
  • Have fingerprints taken of your children. Most local law enforcement agencies have child fingerprint programs

Teach Your Children

It is recommend to teach your children:

  • Never to leave the yard without your permission. Very small children should play only in the backyard or in a supervised play area
  • Not to wander off, to avoid lonely places, and not to take shortcuts through alleys or deserted areas
  • They are safer walking or playing with friends
  • Always to come straight home from school unless you have made other arrangements
  • Never to enter anyone's home without your prior approval
  • To scream, run away, and tell you or a trusted adult if anyone attempts to touch or grab them
  • Not to give out any information on the telephone, particularly their name and address, or that they are alone
  • Never to go anywhere with anyone who does not know the family code word
  • To keep all doors locked and only admit authorized people into the house. No one else should be permitted to enter
  • To memorize their full names and address, including city and state
  • To memorize their telephone number, including area code
  • To use both push button and dial telephones to make emergency, local, and long distance calls, and how to reach the operator
  • To always check in with you or a neighbor immediately after arriving home
  • Never to go into your home if a door is open or a window is broken
  • How to work door and window locks
  • How to get out of the home quickly in case of fire
  • How to answer the doorbell and telephone when they are home alone
  • Never go anywhere with another adult unless you have made arrangements ahead of time. Adopt a family code word to use if you have to ask a third party to pick up your children
  • That a stranger is someone neither you nor they know well
  • To run to the nearest public place, neighbor, or safe house if they feel they are being followed
  • To tell you if anyone asks them to keep a secret, offers them gifts or money, or asks to take their picture
  • To always tell you if something happened while they were away from you that made them feel uncomfortable