24 May 2012

National Missing Children's Day May 25

In 1996, 9 year old Amber Hagerman was abducted by a man who took her off her bike and pulled her into his car. She was found dead three days later and her killer was never found. From this tragedy came the AMBER Alert, a notice that is sent out over the Emergency Alert System as soon as a child is confirmed missing. The first 24 hours are the most crucial in any investigation and by making the details public as soon as possible, hundreds of children have been saved.

Most people see things and have no idea that they may be looking at a kidnapper and his victim. Something as simple as a child in the backseat of a car that stops for gas could be a potentially deadly situation for that child. The AMBER Alert helps everyday citizens realize what they are seeing and report it. They might recognize the car, the child's clothing or even the kidnapper from a description on the radio or internet and be able to report it in time to save the child's life.

Are You Prepared?

You should always have current photos of your children. This isn't hard with phone cameras and digital cameras these days. Make sure you take a good, full face shot of your child at least once a month. If something does happen, you'll have a photo you can give to the police. Hopefully nothing will ever cause you to need to share pictures with the police and you will simply have good memories for years to come.

Take your child's fingerprints. This can help the police identify a child when found with certainty. In cases where a child has been missing for several years and may look very different, fingerprinting is a good identifier.

Birthmarks and Scars
Keep track of noticeable scars and birthmarks that your child has. These can be used as identifiers should he or she go missing. Often missing posters will let people know if a child has a noticeable mark on an arm or the face, since this could be the clue they need to realize who the child is. You may want to take pictures of these marks, as well.

Buddy System
Make sure your children know and use the buddy system. They should never go anywhere alone. Most abductors will not go after children who are with someone else, even if it is another child of the same age. That doesn't mean it will never happen, but this is a good start for protection.

What Kids Need to Know

It's very important to let kids know about the potential dangers out there. If they don't know and they trust everyone, they are very easy targets for predators.

If you're not comfortable broaching the subject with your kids, then there are several books that can be helpful. You'll find these below. Here are a few things your child should know.

Make a ruckus. If someone tries to grab you, scream your head off. Yell, "You're not my mommy/daddy!" Abductors will often leave the scene without the child if they are making too much noise.

Adults don't need help from you. A common ploy of abductors is to ask a child to help them find a puppy, missing child or other aid. They then grab the child and pull them into a vehicle. Let children know not to go near strangers' vehicles. If someone asks for directions, tell them you will get your parent.

Don't take anything from strangers. Offering candy, toys or other treats is something that kidnappers do to draw kids close enough to grab. Stay away.

Never say you're alone. Answering the phone while your parents are out is ok, but you should say "Mom is busy right now, can I take a message?" instead of saying you are alone. Don't open the door when home alone, either.

Don't hide. If someone is following you, never hide. Instead, go to a crowded area or knock on someone's door and ask them to call your parents. It's dangerous to hide since the abductor can grab you without anyone seeing


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