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How Can I Help Prevent My Child From Being Abducted?

Recent child abductions, although a rare occurrence, have left many parents frightened and unsure about how best to protect their children. According to a study conducted for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, in 57% of the cases, the victims of child-abduction murder are victims of opportunity. As parents search for ways to keep their children safer, it is worth noting that reducing the opportunities for abduction will help prevent those occurrences. The rules that many of us lived by in our childhood no longer apply in today’s world. Parents should know where their children are at all times, whom their children are with, and not let their children go places alone.

Parents should openly answer their children’s questions about their safety. Parents should also look for opportunities to include their children in their safety plan, according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC). Parents can practice “what-if” scenarios with their children, and they can include them in securing their home. These steps will help empower the child and reinforce the safety message.

These tips from the NCMEC will help parents lessen the opportunity for abduction and kidnapping and better safeguard their children.

1. Teach your children to run away from danger, never toward it. Danger is anyone or anything that invades their personal space. Teach them to yell loudly. Their safety is more important than being polite. Teach your children that if they are ever followed in a car to turn around and run in the other direction to you or another trusted adult.

2. Never let your children go places alone, and always supervise your young children or make sure there is a trusted adult present to supervise them if you cannot. Make sure your older children always take a friend when they go somewhere.

3. Know where your children are and whom they are with at all times. Remind children never to take anything or respond in any way if approached by someone they don’t know. Teach them to run away as quickly as they can to you or another trusted adult.

4. Talk openly to your children about safety and encourage them to tell you or another trusted adult if anyone or anything makes them feel frightened, confused, or uncomfortable. Discuss security issues with your children so that they will understand the need for precautions. Advise your older children about steps they can take to help safeguard themselves. Know your children’s friends and their families. Pay attention to your children and listen to them. If you don’t, there’s always someone else who will.

5. Practice what you teach by creating “what-if” scenarios with your children to make sure they understand the safety message and can use it in a real situation.

6. Consider installing an alarm system in your home with a monitoring feature. Make sure your home is secured with deadbolt locks, and ensure that landscaping around it doesn’t provide places for people to hide. Check other access points, such as gates, and make sure they have been secured. Consider installing exterior lighting around your home. Make sure that your home is fully secured before you go to sleep, with items such as ladders, stored inside. Have a plan if an intruder tries to or gets into your home, just as you would in case of fire.

7. Make your children part of securing your home. If you have installed an alarm system, demonstrate it to your children, and show them how to make certain that doors and windows are locked. This will not only help calm their fears, but will also help make them part of your “safety plan” at home.

8. Have a list of family members who could be contacted in case of an emergency. Designate a family member or close associate who would be able to fill the role of advisor in case of an emergency.

9. Be alert to and aware of your surroundings. Know the “escape routes” and plan what you would do in different emergencies. Practice “what-if” scenarios, so you will be well-prepared. Know how to reach the nearest local law enforcement agency or substation.

10. Know your co-workers and employees. Do background screening and reference checks on everyone who works at your home, particularly anyone who cares for your children. Their knowledge of your family is extensive, so make sure that you have an equivalent understanding of them.

11. Take steps to secure personal information about yourself. Be discreet about your possessions and your family’s personal information.

12. Report any suspicious persons or activities to law enforcement. If you feel that you or your children have been targeted or are being stalked, immediately report this information to law enforcement authorities. Do not wait.

13. Remember that you are your best resource for safeguarding your family. Do not become complacent about personal security issues

Age Specific Strategies and Other Tips

  Copyright 2012 The City of Huntsville, Alabama           07-19-2012