Child Safety - Is
YOUR child protected?
By Kimberly Vetrano
It's a parent's worst nightmare. You are with your
family in a crowded store. You turn for just one moment to look at
something then turn back to realize your child is not beside you. Your
heart feels like it's stopping while terror takes over your body.
Thankfully your child is just a few feet away and everything is fine
again. Sadly, for thousands of families each year this story does not
have a happy ending.
The F.B.I. receives on average 2,000 missing children reports each day.
In the United States a child goes missing every 40 seconds, 24 hours a
day, 365 days a year. And according to the US Department of Justice and
the World Almanac the chances of a child of being abducted at 1 in 42.
These statistics are not to scare you, but rather to express upon all
parents and caregivers the importance of teaching your children how to
stay safe as well as to make sure your children are properly identified
in the event they are missing or abducted. Most people make sure that
they have an identification tag for their pets, but never consider the
importance of having identification for their own children.
So what can parents and caregivers do to protect their children? There
are many steps that parents and caregivers can take to help their
It is very important to have proper identification for their children
available in case a child goes missing or is abducted. It is important
to have a current picture of your child as well as their fingerprints
and a DNA sample. There is a new product available now that will allow
you to have your child's teeth prints preserved as well since dental
records are often used for identification. Such products are readily
available and inexpensive. All children should have proper
identification on record and have it updated each year.
Another very important thing that parents and caregivers can do to
protect their children is to make sure that their children always wear
some sort of identification that is not easily seen. T-shirts with a
child's name on it or a button on their jacket is not a smart thing for
a parent to do. Sure, children love wearing clothing with their names
boldly printed on them, but for the would be child abductor knowing a
child's name just makes them an easier target. Instead parents should
utilize non-obvious forms of identification on their children such as a
Child ID Scope and identification bracelets where your child's name and
your contact information is printed on the inside of the bracelet so
that it is not easily seen by others.
Other important tips parents and caregivers can use to help protect
* Never allow children to go anywhere without telling you about it
* Make sure you know exactly what your child is wearing that day. Take a
mental note of their shoes, shirt, pants and anything else they might be
wearing so you can recall it if needed. You can make a game of it as
well. See if your child can also recall what you have on as well. That
way if your child should become separated from you they can tell someone
what color your jacket is or what color dress you have one.
* Go over the rules about strangers with your children whenever they
leave the house. Such "rules" would include never talking to strangers
unless it someone who is trying to help them such as a police officer or
store employee. Remind your child to keep a safe distance from strangers
and in the even a stranger tries to grab hold of them your child should
shout at the top of their lungs "Help! You are not my Mommy/Daddy". It
is also important to teach your children not to fall for the typical
"lures" that abductors use such as helping them to locate a lost pet or
* Should your child become separated from you teach your children to
remain in one spot and not to wonder around. Tell them that you will
come and find them by back tracking where you were. You can also point
out store employees to your children so that your children know they can
tell them that they are lost and need help locating you.
* If your child should get lost from you and cannot locate a police
officer or uniformed employee instruct your child to seek out a mother
with children rather then someone who is alone. Mothers are more likely
to help out a young child.
* Teach your children to trust their intuition. If they feel
uncomfortable about a person or situation your child should feel that
they could talk to you about these feelings. Always listen to what your
child has to say and never just dismiss anything without finding out
* Create a special "code word" that only you and your children know. Do
not share this code word with anyone unless they need to know. Teach
your children that they are not to go with anyone, no matter what they
say (such as "Mommy wanted me to come and get you") unless that person
can give them the secret "code word". If that person does not know the
code word then instruct your child to run away as fast as they can.
If your child does go missing try not to panic. First check all around
you to make sure that your child has just not wondered off. If you still
do not find your child then go ahead and call the police immediately.
There is no waiting period to report a missing person. Make sure you can
describe what your child was wearing, where they were last seen, and
hand over important documents to the police such as your child's current
photo, finger prints and DNA samples. Request that they enter your
child's information in the National Crime Information Center Missing
Person File (NCIC). You can also call the National Center for Missing
and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST and request to have your
child's information entered into their database.
Your child's safety should be your number one priority. With a few
simple steps you can help protect your child. Your child does not have
to become a statistic. With some common sense and a serious approach to
their safety you can help protect your child from becoming a victim. And
make sure you approach this subject in a non-threatening manner. You
want to teach your children how to keep safe, you don't want to alarm
them or make them fearful.
(c) 2004 Kimberly Vetrano is the owner of Child
Safety & More
FUNtastic Letters & Wraps
specializes in Child Safety ID Products, educational books and other
family related products & services.