Based on data collected from the FBI’s missing person database, every 40 seconds in the United States a child goes missing or is abducted.
In most cases of reported abductions by strangers (approximately 80%), the initial contact takes place within a quarter mile of the person’s home. Many of these cases involve luring.
This is why it is important to teach your children the importance of stranger safety. Children need to learn who they can trust and who they should not. Although, since you can never predict the circumstances in which someone will be lured, it is more important to create a standard system which is easy for your children to follow.
First and most importantly: Say no to bribes. This is the most common way a stranger will try to make contact to a child, offering them something they may want.
Create secret passwords: Code words or passwords among trusted people. Anyone who approaches them without the password can be considered a stranger and not someone worth trusting.
Stay in sight: Most parents say to their child at some point “Stay where I can see you.” It is better to say to them “Stay where you can see me.” A child may not always realize they are out of your sight but will surely know when you are out of theirs.
“If you get lost…”: Teach them what to do in the event they get lost. This is where they need to know who they should approach. Explain the reason for uniforms and name tags. Police and security officers wear them so they are easily identifiable. Store employees wear name tags and uniforms as well. It is good practice to teach your child to look right for the name tag and address the officer or employee by their name when asking for help.
Keep in touch: Know where your children are going. Get them in the habit of being accountable to you with this issue. If your child has a cell phone, many carriers have family locate features which can tell you where they are at all times. Use the tools available to you, be aware and teach awareness with age appropriate information about strangers. Do this while using the tips above so that you can have peace of mind, and your children can live and play safely.