Child Safety Tips: A Guide for Parents…
Children have a natural trust in people, especially adults. It’s important that children know common sense rules that can help keep them safe.
• KEEP an up-to-date photo and completed Identification Kit. Always know the location of your child’s medical and dental records.
• KNOW your children’s friends, where they live, their addresses and phone numbers. Insist that your children be home before dark.
• TEACH your child to never walk up to a stranger in a car. TEACH them to stay away from the vehicle, even if the stranger offers them money, candy or a ride.
• KNOW your neighborhood – Show your children the safest routes to and from school and insist they use the buddy system.
• BE AWARE that children are not safe from abductors just because they are close to home, more than 50% of child abductions take place within one to three city blocks of the victim’s home.
• DO NOT assume that sending your child alone to the neighborhood store is safe.
• NEVER leave a child alone in a public place or allow a child to enter a public restroom alone.
• NEVER put your child’s name on clothes or toys. A child is more likely to approach someone when called by name.
• CHILDREN should stay in a group and play in open areas where parents or other responsible adult can observe them easily.
• MAKE sure your child tells you where they are going, who they are going with, and when will they return.
• LOCK doors and windows in your home and never indicate to strangers when a child may be home alone. When alone children should inform telephone callers that a parent cannot come to the phone at that time, but a message can be left. Or if you have caller ID, that they never answer the phone unless it is the parent calling.
• TEACH your child his or her full name, address and telephone number (including area code).
• MAKE sure your child knows how to use a pay phone or make collect calls. Teach your child how to dial 911.
My Child is Missing!
The first 48 hours following the disappearance of a child are the most critical in terms of finding and returning that child safely home—but they also can be the most troublesome and chaotic. Use this checklist during those first hours to help you do everything you can to increase the chances of recovering your child.
Remember: There is no 24-hour waiting period when a child is missing and believed to be in danger!
• Immediately report your child as missing to your local law enforcement agency. Ask investigators to enter your child into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Missing Persons File. There is no waiting period for entry into NCIC for children under age 18.
• Ask your law enforcement agency if it uses the AMBER Plan (America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response). The AMBER Plan is a voluntary partnership between law enforcement agencies and broadcasters to activate an urgent bulletin in the most serious child abduction cases
• Limit access to your home until law enforcement arrives and has collected possible evidence. Do not touch or remove anything from your child’s room or from your home. Remember that clothing, sheets, personal items, computers, and even trash may hold clues to the whereabouts of your child.
• Give law enforcement investigators all the facts and circumstances related to the disappearance of your child, including what efforts have already been made to search for your child.
• Give a detailed description of the clothing worn by your child and the personal items he or she had at the time of the disappearance.
• Give law enforcement your Identification Kit that includes description of any personal identification marks, such as birthmarks, scars, tattoos that may help in finding your child. Also includes a picture and DNA samples of your child. Make sure your list of friends, family and acquaintances, or anyone else who might have information or clues about your child’s whereabouts are updated in the kit.
• Ask for the name and telephone number of the law enforcement investigator assigned to your case, and keep this information in a safe and convenient place.
• Notify your local (FBI) Federal Bureau of Investigation. FBI resources are unsurpassed in law enforcement.
• After you have reported your child missing to law enforcement, Contact United Response Search and Rescue Team to assist in the search of your child. The organization will organize a search plan with law enforcement. United Response will help in creating a flyer of your child.
• Call NCMEC at 800–THE–LOST (800–843–5678) for additional help with posting flyers and the search of your child.
• Ask your law enforcement agency or United Response for help in contacting the media. The sooner television and radio stations begin notifying the community that a child is missing, the better the chances of recovery.
• Call your child’s friends to find out the last time they saw or talked with your child.
• Designate one person to answer your telephone. Keep a notebook or pad of paper by the telephone so this person can jot down names, telephone numbers, dates and times of calls, and other information relating to each call. If you do not have caller ID – consider having it installed.
• Keep a notebook or pad of paper with you at all times to write down your thoughts or questions and record important information, such as names, dates, or telephone numbers.
• Take good care of yourself and your family, because your child needs you to be strong. As hard as it may be, force yourself to get rest, eat nourishing food, and talk to someone about your tumultuous feelings.
The Second 24-hours...
• Talk with your law enforcement investigator about the steps that are being taken to find your child.
• Call your child’s doctor and dentist and ask for copies of medical records and x-rays. Give them to law enforcement.
• Expand your list of friends, acquaintances, extended family members, yard workers, delivery persons, and anyone who may have seen your child during or following the abduction.
• Look at personal calendars, community events calendars, and newspapers to see if there are any clues as to who was in the vicinity and might be the abductor or a possible witness. Give this information to law enforcement.
• Expect that you will be asked to take a polygraph test, which is standard procedure.
• Work with your law enforcement agency and United Response to schedule press releases and media events. If necessary, ask someone close to you to serve as your media spokesperson. United Response can help you with this task.
• Consider the use of a reward to be posted.
• Report all extortion attempts to law enforcement.
• Take care of yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask others to take care of your physical and emotional needs and those of your familyIf you believe that your child has run away – In addition to the above steps contact the National Runaway Hotline at 1-800-621-4000. They have a database to more than 10,000 local resources through out the country.