According to law enforcement, the majority of missing children’s cases can be prevented with communication between caregivers and children. Law enforcement is adamant that the following steps should be taken proactively, and they should also be implemented on a consistent basis.
Here are life-saving tips from police and the Vanished Children’s Alliance that may very well save your children from becoming the next missing persons case.
Leaving children unattended seems like an obvious step, but many parents do not actually know what “unintended” means. Very small children cannot be out of a parent’s sight for even a few seconds. In many cases, and abductor has been following the family waiting for such a moment.
When it comes to older children, parents are much more likely to leave their children unattended because of their age and perceived maturity. However, this can be a bad strategy.
Many experts agree that there is no need to become a “helicopter parent,” when the definition of unattended actually has very little to do with the physical proximity of a parent to a child.
As a child grows older and does not need a parent’s physical presence everywhere, unattended simply means that the child is not in a place where he or she can get in touch with a trusted caregiver. A child should also be within physical proximity of a trusted member of the peer group or auxiliary caregivers, such as teachers or an afterschool coach.
Children of all ages should be taught to say “no.” This includes old school tips such as not opening the door to strangers, but it also includes not allowing access to any unknown entity on social media.
The digital world is a new phenomenon for many parents, and it is one that must be closely monitored. Abductors can move into a child’s personal space very quickly through social media, even if the parent is always within physical proximity of that child.
Children and parents should also pay close attention to other adults who shower attention or presents on a child. These presents and attention can be an early warning sign of unhealthy feelings that can manifest through improper behavior. The child should be taught to say no in these cases, even if the attention and gifts are something attractive.
Divorce is a touchy subject, because it creates potential abductors out of previously trusted caretakers. Depending on the age of the child, he or she should be made aware of the limitations of each parent.
Children must also be taught to keep open lines of communication with both parents, and parents should become concerned if any line of communication abruptly closes.
These are certainly not the only life-saving procedures that caretakers of children should implement to keep a child safe. Government and educational websites focused on missing children are a great source of updated policies. Parents and caretakers should also stay in touch with local law enforcement about missing persons cases in the area.