Tips to prevent child abduction

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Walking to and from school, around the neighborhood, riding bicycles and playing outside with friends are all activities most kids experience without giving a second thought to their safety.

Now that warmer weather is approaching and children will be outside more often; and as the world changes, children are exposed to a number of situations that could lead to their abduction.

Are children and parents helpless if a potentially dangerous situation was to arise? According to Sheriff Vaughan of Hertford County, &uot;No one is helpless, and I feel that education is the best defense against child abductions.&uot;

Learning of a child’s abduction is one of the most traumatic emotions a parent can experience. Tragically, families in the United States are no stranger to this feeling. Recent statistics from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children indicate that approximately 1.3 million children are reported missing or abducted every year.

&uot;The dire reality of child abduction is that the abduction gains control over the authorities,&uot; said Sheriff Vaughan. &uot;The world isn’t a safe place for children and it’s up to parents to educate them on what they can do to avoid dangerous situations and if need be, aid in their own escape.&uot;

Child abductors come in many forms; neighbors, ex-spouses and family friends. It’s impossible to shelter children from the many dangers they may encounter while growing up. However, Sheriff Vaughan and the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association has some suggestions on how parents can better protect and educate their children though abduction prevention education.

Children must continually be aware of their surroundings – if something seem suspicious or uncomfortable, avoid the situation.

Never open the door to strangers or tell them on the telephone that no one else is home.

Public restrooms should be avoided by children if they are by themselves.

Never approach a car whose driver is seeking directions – adults seldom rely on children for accurate information.

During the school year, request that your child’s school call a parent or guardian if a child is more than an hour late arriving at school.

Avoid wearing restrictive clothing.

Always walk facing traffic so that you will see approaching cars.

Teach children to use pay phones and make sure that they always carry emergency change.

Take special precautions in stairwells, elevator and parking garages.

Walk in the center of the sidewalk to allow for distance on both sides.