A recent high-profile case involving a missing child has put the issue of child abductions on the minds off all parents. Although a true stranger abduction of a child is relatively unusual, it does happen.
What can one do, right now, to help reduce the chance of this unthinkable criminal act from happening to a child?
Here are the FBI’s “Rules of Safety,” written from a child's point of view, for your consideration:
You don’t have to live in constant fear of being abducted. Many crimes against children can be stopped — you can protect yourself. It is important for you to communicate with the right people. Talk to your parents, any grown-up in charge, or a teacher, if anything seems strange or confusing to you. If something makes you uncomfortable, talk to someone about it, even if it seems small!
Remember, it is never too late to ask for help. And, keep asking until you get the help you need. Many people care about you, will listen to you, and will believe you.
1. You have probably heard the warning to, “Stay away from strangers!” Who is a stranger? Even if you have seen someone before hanging around at the playground, in your neighborhood store, or at your local school, does not mean you know him or her.
Yes, you recognize him or her, his or her face is familiar to you, but they are still a stranger. A good rule to follow is, unless your parents have met or know that you are with him or her, he or she is a stranger to you. You’ve got to think about confusing situations or people who might harm you — even if you do not think of them as a stranger!
Remember, we said that people who kidnap kids are not usually different at first. That is why you’ve got to stay alert and stay away from people you do not know.
2. Grown-ups should NOT ask kids to do things that other adults should do for them. This does not mean that if your mother asks you to clean up the kitchen, you can say no. What it means is that you should not go, or get in a car, with an adult who, for example, asks you for directions.
Grown-ups should also not ask you to help them find a lost puppy or kitty. Say NO or say, “Wait right here, I’ll check with my mom, (dad, baby-sitter, etc.).” Then go get your mom.
3. If you are in a public place, like a store or park, and you lose your parents or you get lost, do NOT go looking for them. Go right away to the check-out counter, the security office, or the lost-and-found section and tell the people in charge you’ve been separated from your parents, and you need their help.
4. Ask your parents’ permission or a grown-up in charge before going anywhere with anyone, leaving the yard, play area, or going into someone’s home; catching a ride home with someone; or getting into a car or leaving with anyone, even if it is someone you know.
Once you have gotten their permission, tell them where you are going; tell them how you will get there; tell them who will be going with you; tell them when you will be back; and get back on time, or call with new information.
5. You are safer when you’re with other people in public places. Use the “buddy system.” There is safety in numbers.
6. Do not take money, gifts, or treats without telling a parent or the grown-up in charge.
7. If someone follows you on foot or in a car, STAY AWAY from him or her. You do NOT need to go near the car to talk to the people inside.
8. If you are in a public place and someone tries to take you somewhere by force, try to get away from him or her, and yell or scream: "This man is trying to take me away!" "he/she is not my father/mother!"
For more information, be sure to visit the FBI’s Web site: www.fbi.gov.
Some other general child safety ideas from law enforcement professionals include:Make sure your child knows their name, your name, address and telephone number (including the area code).Have your child photo taken yearly; for preschoolers, photos should be updated every three months.Teach your child to use the telephone, including how to dial 9-1-1 for help.Consider setting up a family “code word” for emergencies, and tell your child never to go anywhere with anyone who does not know this secret “code word.”Make sure your kids do not have their name visible on their clothing or other items, as knowing your child’s name may make it easier for a person to possibly kidnap your child.
Since every child and family situation is different, be sure to check with your local police department or school board to see if they offer any program or training on the subject of “child abduction prevention,” and for more details on this vital topic.
My Final Thoughts: Unfortunately, there are many unsolved missing child cases nationwide. If you have any information about any child abduction case, immediately contact your local FBI office.
Note: If you manufacture or distribute any security, safety, emergency preparedness, homeland defense or crime prevention related products, please send information on your product line for possible future reference in this column to CrimePrevention123@yahoo.com.
Copyright 2008 by Bruce Mandelblit
“Staying Safe” with Bruce Mandelblit (www.Mandelblit.com) is a regular column for the readers of Newsmax.com and Newsmax.com magazine.
Bruce welcomes your thoughts. His e-mail address is CrimePrevention123@yahoo.com.
Bruce is a nationally known security journalist, as well as a recently retired, highly decorated reserve law enforcement officer.
Bruce writes "Staying Safe," a weekly syndicated column covering the topics of security, safety, and crime prevention.
Bruce was commissioned as a Kentucky colonel — the state’s highest honor — for his public service. This column is provided for general information purposes only. Please check with your local law enforcement agency and legal professional for information specific to you and your jurisdiction.
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