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Preventing Child Abduction
- Do not leave your young child alone (even for a minute) in a stroller, a car, or any public place, such as a restroom.
- Establish neighborhood boundaries in which your children should play.
- Notice if an older child or adult is giving your child a great deal of attention and find out why.
- Be alert to any changes in your child’s mood, behavior, or attitude.
- Make sure that the school does not release your child to anyone but you or someone you designate to pick him or her up.
- Do not buy items such as hats, shirts, or jackets with your child’s name on them. Abductors often use this information so they can call children by their names and gain their trust.
- Make sure your child knows people they can go to if they need help when you are not around.
- Monitor your child’s activity on the Internet, especially on social media sites. Advise them not to communicate with strangers. Never have your child send specific information (eg, address, phone number) to anyone.
Make sure you have the following items:
- An up-to-date color photograph of your child. Take a new one every six months for children six years or younger and once a year for older children.
- A medical and dental history
- A fingerprint card
Talk to Your Children
- Being sensitive to your child's fears
- Explaining the potential danger in certain situations
- Helping your child understand how to protect him or herself in potentially dangerous situations
Be Sensitive to Your Child’s Fears
Explain the Potential Danger
Teach Your Child How to Handle Potentially Dangerous Situations
|Potentially Dangerous Situation||What Your Child Should Do|
|Your child is home alone. Someone on the phone asks if the child is alone or asks for personal information.||Child should never say he or she is home alone or give any personal information. Your child should say that you are busy, but will call back. Child should ask to take a message.|
|Your child is home alone and someone rings the doorbell.||Child should not answer the door.|
|Someone your child does not know very well asks to come into your house.||Child should ask you or babysitter for permission first.|
|Someone your child does not know very well invites your child over to his house.||Child should ask you for permission first.|
|Your child gets lost in a store or mall.||Child should go to the nearest cashier and ask for help.|
|A car pulls up beside your child and your child does not know the driver.||Child should move away from the car.|
|Someone tries to force your child toward a building or car.||Child should yell, “Help! This is not my parent!” Scatter books and belongings.|
|A stranger says he needs help and asks your child to come with him.||Child should not go. Child should go to parent or trusted adult.|
|Someone your child does not know well says he wants to show your child something.||Child should not go with him. Child should tell a trusted adult what just happened.|
|Someone your child does not know well asks your child to get into his car.||Child should not go with him. Child should tell a trusted adult what just happened.|
|A teenager or adult asks your child to keep a secret from you.||Child should be instructed to tell you.|
|A teenager or adult exposes private parts of his body in front of your child.||Child should leave the situation right away and tell you, a teacher, or a police officer.|
|Someone deliberately tries to touch any part of your child’s body in the bathing suit area.||Child should know that he or she has the right to say NO to anyone who touches him. Child should leave the situation and tell you right away.|
|Your child wants to play in a deserted house or building, or an isolated area where there are few other people around.||Child should stay away from deserted houses and buildings. Child should not play in isolated areas.|
|Someone your child does not know well offers your child candy, gifts, drugs, or money.||Child should refuse any offering from someone that he or she does not know well.|
|Someone befriends you to get close to your child.||Stay alert. Child should not be left alone with this person.|
Tips for Older Children and Teens
- Have them tell you where they will be at all times.
- Talk to them about the dangers of hitchhiking.
- Warn them that they should not resist the demands of attackers for money, jewelry, or clothing.
- Advise them to yell for help, run to the closest public place, or run home if they are being followed.
Teach them how to:
- Recognize unusual behavior.
- Describe the details about a person or vehicle.
- Remember license plate numbers.
- Caution them about playing in or walking through deserted areas such as alleys, fields, empty parks, and abandoned buildings.
- Reassure them that they can talk to you about anything.
- Let them know that you are available if they need a ride.
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children http://www.missingkids.com
Safe Kids Worldwide http://www.safekids.org
Canada's Missing Government of Canada http://www.ourmissingchildren.gc.ca
Missing Children Society of Canada http://www.mcsc.ca
Child safety and prevention. National Center for Missing & Exploited Children website. Available at: http://www.missingkids.com/Safety. Accessed July 15, 2014.
Key facts. National Center for Missing & Exploited Children website. Available at: http://www.missingkids.com/KeyFacts. Accessed July 15, 2014.
Resources for families. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children website. Available at: http://www.missingkids.com/Families. Accessed July 15, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 07/2014
- Update Date: 07/15/2014