CHILD ABDUCTION PREVENTION
Provided by LC Sheriff Dennis Dotson
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), every year more than 200,000 children are abducted by family members. An additional 58,000 are taken by non-relatives with primarily sexual motives. However, last year 115 reported abductions represented cases in which strangers abducted and killed children, held them for ransom, or took them with the intention to keep.
Many people have been led to believe that abductions primarily consist of strangers or registered sex offenders (RSOs). This has proven to not be the situation in the past two years. The FBI reports that RSOs are a minimal part of the problem. In 2009, a RSO was the abductor in 2% of child abduction cases. Last year this figure dropped to 1%. FBI records also reveal that 68% of child abduction victims are known by their abductors.
While parents should continue to teach their children not to talk to strangers, children also need to be informed of the following:
* Talk to your child about abductions. It will reduce the risk of their becoming a victim.
* It’s important to reassure your child that abductions are rare and most people are good to children, but they should be cautious and prepared.
* Remind your child to be apprehensive to strangers, but let your child know that even familiar people should not be allowed to intrude their personal space.
* No one should ask your child to keep a secret from you, even a relative or a babysitter.
* Tell your child that if an adult pulls up to them in a car and asks for help or to show them something, they should stand back and be ready to run and yell for help. Adults do not normally ask children for help, they ask other adults for help.
* If a vehicle follows a child, the child should quickly turn around and run in the opposite direction to a place of safety.
* Some common ploys abductors use are to ask a child for help looking for their pet or for directions, offer gifts or candy, threaten them, or even tell them their parents are hurt or that they were sent to pick the child up.
* Your family should develop a secret code word and anyone who is contacting your child should know the code word or your child should be instructed to get away from them.
* If your child is home alone, they should not answer the door or tell anyone on the phone that they are alone.
* If approached by someone who makes the child uncomfortable, the child should immediately run away and make noise, drawing attention to his or her situation. Rather than just screaming, the child should shout something specific such as “stranger – get away from me – leave me alone – this is not my parent – help.”
* It is important that your children know their address and phone number, but be sure that they understand to never share that information with strangers.
* Consider role-playing with your children using scenarios that they could face and what basic safety precautions they should use.
* Ensure that your children understand they can always discuss their concerns with you.
Utilizing these tools can assist in keeping our children safer.
For more tips and information, please visit our website at www.lincolncountysheriff.net or visit us on Facebook at Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office – Oregon.