A Matter of Education
Every parent's nightmare is the thought of his or her child becoming the victim of abduction or exploitation. Each year there are about 30,000 children reported missing to Illinois Law Enforcement agencies.
Fortunately, the vast majority are not abducted but are runaways. The chances of a child being abducted are minimal, but sadly, it does occur, and often with a tragic ending.
Effective Tips To Help Educate Your Children
An Abductor is not a "Stranger"
The term "stranger" ignores what has been known about abductors since the mid-1980s. From research conducted by the Department of Justice, we know that nationally, the majority of missing children who have been abducted knew their abductor. Instead of using a blanket policy statement "stay away from strangers," teach your children to be on the lookout for suspicious actions or situations.
- Adults who need help should not be asking children for assistance (directions, looking for a lost puppy) - they should be asking other adults.
- Only close family members or uniformed police officers should communicate there is a family emergency that would necessitate the child's presence.
- Adults do not randomly give away gifts (money, toys, kittens) to children.
- Non-uniformed police officers, unless in the most extreme circumstances, will not ask a child to go with them.
- Responsible adults do not give children rides without parental permission and knowledge.
The Parent as a Teacher
A one-time visit to a classroom by a police officer trained in abduction prevention may provide foundational information, but the message soon fades. The information needs to be reinforced and internalized by the child.
- Make sure children know their full name, address, phone number (with area code), and how to dial 911. Give instructions on the use of cell phones.
- Teach children that if they are in a public place and become separated, to go to a store and have them call 911 for assistance. If they become separated inside a store or shopping center, have them go to a checkout counter or security office, and to not leave the store with anyone but you.
- If someone tries to take your child somewhere, tell them to scream "This person is trying to take me away - This person is not my parent!"
And as a Parent
- Know where your children are at all times.
- Pay special attention to teens or adults who are providing an abnormal amount of attention to your child or giving inappropriate or expensive gifts.
- Monitor all emails and e-cards that are received. Avoid instant massaging.
- Teach your children to trust their feelings, and reinforce they have the right to say no if they sense something is wrong or inappropriate.
- Listen to your children's fears or discomfort - often reluctance of a child to be around specific people is founded in a child's perceptions or a past negative experience - Listen to those intuitions.
Child ID Kits
These kits are available at the Police Department at no cost to any parent or guardian who resides in the corporate limits of the City of Geneva.