A Reality Check for Parents
One really difficult challenge that is faced by each parent, especially those with really young children, is teaching the children to be cautious when outside the safety of home. The reality about most child abductions is different from the dramatic way in which they are portrayed on TV.
These are some of the realities regarding child abductions —
• A majority of children reported missing are those who have either run away from home or there is a misunderstanding with the parents about where they were supposed to be.
• The majority of children are abducted or kidnapped by someone familiar or a far-away family member or some family acquaintance. Only 25% of kids are kidnapped by absolute strangers.
• Most children are kidnapped by men and most abductions involve female children.
• Mostly teenaged children are abducted.
• Children are seldom abducted from the school premises.
Strategies to Fight Child Abductions
• The parents should keep ID-like updated photographs of their children, i.e. get them clicked every six months. Getting the children fingerprinted is an excellent idea. These two measures serve as a big assistance to the local police department in case the child is reported missing.
• Being careful about online safety. The internet is a big help to everyone but in the case of kids it is a breeding ground for sexual predators stalking them. Parents should keep a tract of the child’s chat room interests, e-mail friends and the sites often visited. Make sure that that the child never gives out personal information. Children should avoid posting their photos on adult-themed sites.
• Supervise the children in crowded places like malls, markets, movie halls, parks and public bathrooms.
• Never leave a child alone in the car, even for a few minutes. For a serial kidnapper, it takes barely 3 to 4 minutes to abduct a child aged between 4 and 7.
• Choosing the child’s caregivers – parents should keep a keen eye of the people with whom the child interacts including babysitters, neighbourhood friends, day-care providers and nannies. Check out references of domestic helps before hiring them.
• If someone else is scheduled to pick-up the child from the school or childcare centre, explain the arrangements of travelling and being picked up to the child. Ask the child not to deviate from the instructions, no matter what.
• Don’t dress children with name tags — children tend to easily trust adults who address them with their real names.
• Make some ground rules for children. Instruct them to never to hold hands or talk with a stranger. If a stranger tries to touch them, the children should scream out loud. Such precautions have to be instilled in the children by the parents.