Despite seemingly frequent Amber Alerts, child abductions are rare, thankfully. Still, parents must help children gain the skills and confidence they need to prevent becoming a victim. Lessons like “don’t talk to strangers” are inadequate and teach children to fear and avoid people unreasonably. What’s more, those intent on harming children often appear friendly and familiar. To help keep your children safe, you should:
- Teach vital information. Children should know their names, addresses and phone numbers with area codes along with their parents’ work or cell phone numbers.
- Supervise Internet use. Remind your kids to never give out personal information or post pictures of themselves. Let them know they should come to you when they feel uneasy about messages they receive.
- Show them how to find help. Point out to your children appropriate adults—store clerks or police officers—who can help if they’re ever lost or need assistance. Tell them that adults should never ask children for help. Instruct them to say “No!” and to find a parent or trusted adult if someone asks them for directions or help finding a lost puppy.
- Keep records up to date. Have ID-like photos taken every six months and keep medical and dental records current. Many communities sponsor digital-photo and fingerprinting drives for kids. If you choose to participate, take care not to frighten your children.
- Supervise and set boundaries. Never leave children alone in a stroller or car, even for a minute. Supervise them in malls, movie theaters, parks and public restrooms. Always go along for door-to-door fund-raising and insist kids get permission before leaving the yard or house and before going into someone’s home or car.