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.
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 house, 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 9-1-1 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
Teach your children to:
- Never leave the yard without your permission. Very small children should play only in the backyard or in a supervised play area.
- Not wander off, to avoid lonely places, and not to take shortcuts through alleys or deserted areas.
- Always come straight home from school unless you have made other arrangements.
- Never enter anyone's home without your prior approval.
- Scream, run away, and tell you or a trusted adult if anyone attempts to touch or grab them.
- Not give out any information on the telephone, particularly their name and address, or that they are alone.
- Never go anywhere with anyone who does not know the family code word.
- Keep all doors locked and only admit authorized people into the house. No one else should be permitted to enter.
- Memorize their full names and address, including city and state.
- Memorize their telephone number, including area code.
- Use both push button and dial telephones to make emergency, local, and long-distance calls, and how to reach the operator.
- Always check in with you or a neighbor immediately after arriving home.
- Never go into your home if a door is open or a window is broken.
- Work door and window locks.
- Get out of the home quickly in case of fire.
- Not 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.
- Understand that a stranger is someone neither you nor they know well.
- Run to the nearest public place, neighbor, or safe house if they feel they are being followed.
- Tell you if anyone asks them to keep a secret, offers them gifts or money, or asks to take their picture.
- Always tell you if something happened while they were away from you that made them feel uncomfortable.