Be Prepared and Raise Awareness
5. Do some prep work -- just in case
Did you know it takes parents about two hours to gather all the information law officials need to find a missing child? Scary stat: According to the Department of Justice, 74 percent of the children murdered by non-family members are killed within the first three hours of abduction. Always keep pictures of your kids at hand, and consider using some of these tools to help you maximize this crucial time should the unthinkable occur.
- Do-It-Yourself DNA Sampling Kit
There are several sites that offer them. Check out the one from the KlaasKids Foundation and the State of California DNA Laboratory at www.klaaskids.org/pg_cs_dnakit.htm.
- Child ID Kit
The National Alert Registry offers a free printable where you can include your child's photo, weight, height, and fingerprints. Visit http://www.registeredoffenderslist.org/child-id-kit.pdf.
This is a USB flash drive where you can store your family's vital information, including photos, and carry it on your key chain. All the information is encrypted and secured with a password. If a family member goes missing, a police officer can plug it into his cruiser's computer USB port and transmit all the info to law enforcement -- even "Missing Person" flyers are automatically created. For more information, visit www.codeamber.org.
Many of the organizations and Web sites offering tools to keep kids safe from sexual predators were created in memory of missing kids. These are some of the young victims whose abductions helped change laws and raise awareness:
His dad, John Walsh, went on to create The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Web site: www.missingkids.com
The case prompted the first-ever law to create a statewide sex-offender registry. Web site: www.jwf.org
This 1993 case led to the creation of tougher penalties for child predators. Web site: www.pollyklaas.org
Her New Jersey neighbor -- a convicted sex offender -- kidnapped her in 1994. A law named for Megan requires state residents to be notified when a sex offender moves into the area. Web site: www.megannicolekankafoundation.org
The "Amber Alert" system designed to help find abducted children was created in her memory. Web site: www.codeamber.org
Her parents have become active lobbyists for tougher sex-offender laws since her 2002 adduction.
A law in her name increased prison sentences and other penalties for sex offenders. Web site: www.jmlfoundation.com
Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby
Both were allegedly nabbed by Michael Devlin. Hornbeck lived with his captor for four years before being found (along with Ownby). The case raised awareness of the dangers of child predators once again. Web site: www.shawnhornbeck.com
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