The Facts, How To Prepare &
How To Cope
With more kids missing everyday, how can I keep my kid safe? What if my kid does go missing? Then what? What do I do? …and how do I cope?
I have had the same questions. What would I do if the worst happened?
But I never knew to ask until I learned what the big deal was all about.
The Facts In Black & White
The facts not only make you more aware, but they put the problem in perspective. The FBI estimates that today alone there will be 2,000 more kids missing.
Why? Because that’s how many reports they get everyday.
Many kids are found, but not all are that lucky. The cold hard statistics on child abduction tell us that murder is rare...
...but the kids who are murdered will be killed within the first 3 hours of the kidnapping.
But murder isn't our only fear. Child molestation. Exploitation. Never knowing where or how your child is.
Sometimes the child's own parent exploits the child!
If you are a parent in a relationship with an abusive partner, get help or get out. Many parents leave their homes to escape from an abusive partner and eventually gain sole custody to protect their children - find out if this decision is right for you.
Even then, non-custodial parent abductions are the most common kind of kidnapping. It's a crazy world out there.
The truth is that out of the 2,000 kids missing every day, we will never see or hear from 80 of them again.
80 kids a day... That breaks my heart.
The Facts In Color
Now I’m not a researcher - sometimes the “cold hard facts” are hard for me to read. But a good story sure brings it home!
If you are like me, I recommend reading some
stories about kids missing.
Fair warning: these can be tear-jerkers... but they will always teach you something.
And another fact... many parents recover their children because they were prepared.
Here are some tips to help you be prepared.
Before My Child Goes Missing...
Kids go missing. It’s another fact. And they don’t just run away or get kidnapped – they get lost. They get hurt and can’t make it home. There are many reasons kids go missing.
Every parent needs to have a game plan. Here are a few tips:
- Write out a complete description of your child and keep it on hand. Hair color, eye color, weight, birth date, race... does your child have a birthmark or significant scar that would make them stand out?
- Keep an updated picture of your kid in your wallet or purse.
- Have your child fingerprinted. You can do this with local law enforcement. Some
missing children organizations
have free fingerprinting kits.
- Read the booklet “When Your Child Is Missing: A Family Survival Guide”. This was written by parents who went through the missing-kids nightmare.
- Go to the Lost Children’s Network. This volunteer organization will help you distribute photos and video.
Being prepared gives me peace of mind – just knowing that I’m doing my best.
Will it keep my child from going missing? Nope. Fingerprints do nothing to stop it. Pictures do nothing to stop it. Descriptions do nothing to stop it.
My child has to go missing first for these things to help. So how can we prevent our kids from going missing?
Preventing The Nightmare
The best way to keep your child from joining the list of kids missing is to educate yourself, and then empower your own child.
Teach your kids about safe strangers versus unsafe strangers. Teach them what to do if someone tries to kidnap them. Teach them that strangers aren't the only abductors - family and friends can be enemies in disguise... but of course, teach them ways to decipher who is who!
One of the best programs that is actually proven to prevent kids missing is
Child Shield USA
. It's the program that pedophiles and abductors don't want you to know about.
And if your child goes missing, they have a guaranteed emergency response. So far, every child that went missing in their program was 100% recovered safely.
But if your child is missing right now, there are steps you need to take right now.
My Child IS Missing... Now What?
What do you do if your child does go missing?
The first thing you DO NOT do is panic. Catch your breath, then act now. Here’s what you should do (and I'd do it in this order):
- Check around your house… young kids find the strangest places to hide. Check in closets, cupboards, dryers, and other small places.
- Call family, friends, neighbors… has anyone seen your child?
- If you still haven’t found him, call your local police or 911. Give them all the information they ask for to help find your kid.
- Ask them to immediately make a Missing Person File, by
putting your kid’s name into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC).
- Keep visitors to a minimum. You don’t want to spoil any evidence.
- Call the National Center for Missing Children... 1-800-THE-LOST They may have other resources for you.
How Do I Cope?
Having a missing child is never easy, but you are not alone.
Find hope in the stories of other missing children who returned home safely.
You can read poetry or listen to songs for missing children.
Connect with other parents who have kids missing.
And remember... take care of yourself. Shower. Eat. Sleep if you can. If you can keep yourself alert and healthy, you will be a better tool in your own search for your child.
Read that Family Survival Guide I mentioned earlier. It shares some thoughtful ideas - not only for yourself, but for helping the whole family cope with the loss.
Hope. Always hope. And never give up until your child is safe at home.
A great example of this is the famous story of Etan Patz, the boy who inspired Missing Children's Day.
Read more here.
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