Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Teaching Children Skills to Prevent Abduction

Going Beyond "Don't Talk to Strangers"

"Rather than teaching children to fear strangers, which is at best, woefully inadequate, we need to use positive messages," says Dr. Broughton. "Children need to learn skills and confidence, not fear and avoidance." says Daniel Broughton, M.D., a pediatrician at Mayo Clinic

Children should know their name, address and phone number (with area code) so, if lost, they can be reunited with their family.

Older children should know parents' work numbers.

Away from home, older children should always be with a friend, always tell an adult where they will be, and say "no" if they feel threatened or uncomfortable.

Children need to know that appropriate strangers -- store clerks or police officers -- can offer assistance if they are lost or need help.

Parents need to listen, and respect their children's feelings. Children can sense unease in inappropriate relationships. They'll likely share their concerns if parents routinely take all of their concerns in life seriously rather than downplaying or shaming them.

Children need to know that they do not need to kiss, hug, touch or sit on the lap of anyone, relative or not, if they do not wish to. This respect for their wishes translates into self-respect and the ability for children to say no to unwanted contacts without generating fear.

Parents need to supervise children who use the Internet. Although still relatively uncommon, the practice of pedophiles and child molesters approaching children on the Internet is occurring more frequently.

Parents need to keep reinforcing safety messages through middle school and high school. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, most victims of nonfamily abductions were 12 years or older (58 percent). Most were girls (65 percent).

Parents should realize the limitations of participating in programs where children are fingerprinted or otherwise identified. These programs can frighten children and raise fears in adults without giving perspective on the real nature or risk of abduction.

Parents should keep on hand a high-quality recent photo of each child, such as a school photo. Law enforcement officials consider photos the best tool in finding missing children.

Parents should promptly report a missing child. The Amber Plan, the national program to immediately flood a region with news of an abduction, is credited with helping to recover more than 130 children since it started two years ago.




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