January 2014, in a town very close to where I live; a Child was almost abducted from a school while waiting to be picked up by his parents in the afternoon. A unidentified man pulled through the child pick up lanes, and asked for the child directly by name, the Teacher overseeing the safety of the children, asked that child to come over so that she could load the child into the vehicle, The child immediately said, I don’t know that man and then the man sped off, the campus police officer was a short distance from where the event occurred, but was unable to get enough of a description of the vehicle to accurately identify the suspect. Thankfully the child was watching more than the ground and immediately became alert to not knowing the man; otherwise, I could have been getting a text putting out another amber alert.
As Cliché’ as it is. Stranger danger is no laughing matter. According to the “National Center for Exploited and Missing Children” approximately 800,000 children went missing in 1999, to be their most recent study. That doesn’t mean missing and never found, but had a case filed as a missing person, 800,000!! That’s an astronomical amount of missing children that includes approximately 200,000 abducted by non-family members, and approximately 58,000 that were abducted by family members. An Estimated 115 of those children were victims of what they call “Stereotypical kidnapping”, which means, Kidnapped for the purpose to rape, murder, or hold ransom.
I would like to encourage every family member to please think outside the box when it comes to protecting our young ones and ensuring their return home every day. We are in the Digital age and there is an abundance of technology you could involve in your kids life to help prevent such incident occurring. Don’t let a child be a victim.
Something else that I experience all too often, when I put on a uniform, be it working as an EMT, Fireman, Security Guard, or anything resembling a uniform but in a non-law enforcement capacity it is commonly confused or misconstrued as that person being a “cop” or a “popo” as I hear very often. I would definitely like to discourage any person to create the image of a uniform as being a bad thing. Anyone in a uniform, are always there to help others in any way that we can, so please take the time to educate the children exactly what the EMS, Fire, and Law Enforcement personnel actually do, not that someone in a uniform is a bad person and will lock them up. Don’t use a Law Enforcement officer as a threat of punishment to a child.
Ensure that before your child goes to school, they know who will be picking them up, and also know any alternates that might pick them up in the event their original plan has something change. Be sure they know to not accept rides from anyone that they do not know, no matter how much information the person might know about them, and be sure that the school also knows all of the potential people who could pick your child up. Even being a small child, if they’re of school age, they’ll be able to comprehend the information you provide them and hopefully be able to prevent any devastating events from happening. Please don’t allow a child younger than driving age to walk home from school alone, if they absolutely have to, be sure they have some way of communicating to you or a trusted person in the event they need to.
If anyone would like to have more information on Missing Children and how you could help, or steps that you can take to better prepare your child and yourself.
The link below provides tons of information and resources, please visit it!
Be Safe, Be Free!