Whenever the evening news brings the story of a kidnapped child or teen, the terrifying prospect of abduction fills the minds of parents across the country. But it’s important to remember that most kids pass through childhood safely.
One of the challenges of being a parent is teaching your kids to be cautious without filling them with fear or anxiety. Although some dangers do exist, you lessen the chances that your child will be abducted.
The Reality of Child Abductions
The circumstances surrounding child abduction are often quite different from the way they’re shown in TV shows and movies.
Here are some of the realities of child abduction:
- Most kids who are reported missing have run away or there has been a misunderstanding with their parents about where they were supposed to be.
- Of the kids and teens who are truly abducted, most are taken by a family member or an acquaintance; 25% of kids are taken by strangers.
- Almost all kids kidnapped by strangers are taken by men, and about two thirds of stranger abductions involve female children.
- Most abducted kids are in their teens.
- Kids are rarely abducted from school grounds.
Ask your child’s dentist for a copy of their dental records. The records can identify a child and is unique to their body. X-rays do not lie and are kept whether there are any cavities or not. As your child grows and their dental records change according to any fillings, crowns, or braces, update the x-rays and other dental information that is on file.
Do not store the information near a heating unit, furnace, heating vent or where it will be exposed to straight sunlight for long periods of time. Heat can ruin x-ray film and photographs, and degrade blood or other samples that might contain your child’s DNA. Moisture and humidity can also hurt the storage process. Store your child’s information in a cool and dry area.
Keep the contents of the information between you and a spouse, and perhaps on very close family member like a grandparent in case something should happen to you. If you and your spouse or other partner decide to get a divorce or separate, make a copy for the other person and keeping one for yourself. Since separated or divorced parents may live in other states or cities, both adults should have a copy of the information.
Keep these other tips in mind, too:
- Make sure younger kids know their names, address, phone number including area code, and who to call in case of an emergency. Review how to use 911 or a local emergency number. Discuss what to do if they get lost in a public place or store — most places have emergency procedures for handling lost kids. Remind them that they should never go to the parking lot to look for you. Instruct kids to ask a cashier for help or stand near the registers or front of the building away from the doors.
- Point out the homes of friends around the neighborhood where your kids can go in case of trouble.
- Be sure your kids know whose cars they may ride in and whose they may not. Teach them to move away from any car that pulls up beside them and is driven by a stranger, even if that person looks lost or confused. Develop code words for caregivers other than mom or dad, and remind your kids never to tell anyone the code word. Teach them not to ride with anyone they don’t know or with anyone who doesn’t know the code word.
- If your kids are old enough to stay home alone, make sure they keep the door locked and never tell anyone who knocks or calls they are home alone.
- Always keep your windows and doors locked, even in the summer. An open window is an invitation into the residence for a burglar or predator.
- Install motion lights that activate if a person walks near the perimeter of your home.
- Plant large bushes under the first floor windows to make entry into those windows difficult.
- Keep ladders locked in the garage or locked in a tool shed. This will make entry into second floor windows very difficult.
- Obtain a family dog. The dog does not need to be an attack or vicious dog, but simply a dog that will bark and notify the home owner to an intruder or a suspicious person walking around the house. Check out Draper Animal Services, a good place to adopt a new best friend.
- Use wooden dowels in the tracks of windows and sliding glass doors. This will reinforce the locking device.
- Avoid placing bars on the windows as this causes a fire hazard. A fire is much more likely than an abduction.
- Talk to your child about an intruder. Teach them to scream or notify you immediately if an intruder is seen, regardless of threats made by the intruder.
What should I do if my child is missing?
- Act immediately.
- Search your home and check with relatives, neighbors, and friends to try and locate your child.
- If you cannot find your child, immediately report your child missing to your local law-enforcement officers.
- Limit access to your home until law-enforcement officers arrive and are able to collect evidence.
- Give law-enforcement officers all the information they request about your child, and be sure to give them any information that could help in the search.
- Request that your child’s name and identifying information be immediately entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Missing Person File.
- Call us at 1-800-THE-LOST® (1-800-843-5678) to find out what resources are available to you.