According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, it is estimated that 800,000 children were reported missing in the United States. Everywhere you look there are warning labels on different products letting you know of possible problems. But, how many times do parents make sure their children are aware of certain procedures they can follow to be safe?
It was an ordinary afternoon. I would be walking home after school, except today I would be by myself. It was a straight line of 6 blocks to my house from the school, a route that had been traveled many days with my sister, with no issues. And, then it happened.
A sleek, black car with black, tinted windows slowed down across the street from me. The driver rolled the window down and hollered at me. I stopped, looked at him, but kept walking. His car crept along the road with me, and again he yelled at me. Again, I ignored him, but then he stopped his car and started opening the car door. Without any hesitation, I started running for my life. I went down one of the side streets, passed a few houses, and hid behind a trash can. I could hear him walking around looking for me, and I remember sitting very still and praying he wouldn’t find me. After what seemed like an eternity, his car took off. I waited a few more minutes to make sure he was really gone. I then took off for my house, unlocked the door, and then locked myself in until my parents came home. This moment changed my life, especially how I parent and want my kids to be safe.
So, what can be done? What are practical, easy tips parents can give to their children to prevent a possible abduction? Child Quest organization gives simple tips to ensure safety for children to and from school:
Be with a friend or trusted adult for all walks, stay in a well lit area, take certain routes (no shortcuts)
Walk the route with your child and help them find safe places they can go to if need be
Never approach a vehicle to talk to someone or someone needing help, be more than 3 arm lengths from vehicle
Have child walk against the flow of traffic to be aware of any vehicles approaching
If child is being followed, have child go the opposite way of vehicle or person. If they are approached by a person then child needs to attract attention by yelling, kicking, running, fighting-anything to try and get away
The American Red Cross gives the following tips when children are home alone:
Keep doors locked and do not open the door for anyone, whether they know the person or not
Do not engage in conversation with person at door, especially don’t tell them you are home alone
When answering the phone, don’t say you are home alone but instead say parents are currently busy with a task and can’t come to the phone
Post and have an emergency plan set
Remind children to not post on social media that they are home alone
Stay indoors at all times, even if they hear a noise outside, including pets
Safety is one of the top concerns parents have for their children. As a result of this, my parents helped prepare me for a situation they never dreamed would come true. Although this is not the case for all situations, parents must be the leading voice in their children’s safety and have them prepared.