The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reported 600 non-family abductions in 2020. While that number is certainly lower than abductions committed by someone known to the family, any child that goes missing is one too many. As parents it leaves us wondering what can we do?
We asked our Dad network for their top safety strategies:
- Have a password with your children. For example, if the person trying to pick up your child (even if it’s a family member or friend) from school doesn’t relay that password, your child is to immediately find a teacher or school administrator and call you.
- Create a buddy system. Whether it’s walking home from school or playing at the park, teaching your kids the importance of going places in groups is easy and effective.
- Stay on top of technology use. It’s been reported that 55% of children that have been abducted for trafficking purposes have been lured via social media, text messaging services, and deceptive websites. There are apps, such as Bark and Aura, that can help you monitor this type of usage.
- Teach situational awareness. You can start by identifying “normal” experiences while you’re out and about. Once a baseline is set, you can start identifying things that don’t fit that scope and create plans on how to handle those situations.
- It’s okay to fight. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children notes that children evade abductions by fighting back, screaming, or having another child intervene. (This is another reason to employ a buddy system).
- Tracking devices. Brands like Apple and Tile make devices that can be attached to backpacks and sports bags. They then connect to your phone. It can give you peace of mind as a parent to be able to see where your child is at any given time.
Protecting our kids is undoubtedly a top priority as parents. While we can’t be all knowing or everywhere at once, we can utilize these measures and have continuous conversations with our children on ways to keep them safe.
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