Child abduction prevention: Keeping kids safe in an unsafe world

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CEDAR CITY — In response to recent kidnapping attempts throughout Utah as well as nationwide, the Cedar City Police Department released a statement Friday to remind citizens about steps they can take to safeguard against child abduction.

On March 4 in Hurricane, a man attempted to abduct a Hurricane High School student at gunpoint. In Bluffdale Monday, Fox 13 reported, a kidnapping attempt took place when two adults lured a young boy into their car near the boy’s school bus stop, though the boy was able to safely exit the car.

Be prepared

The statement issued by the Cedar City Police Department gives parents tips to help keep their kids safe:

  • Make sure custody documents are in order
  • Have ID-like photos taken of your kids every six months, and have kids fingerprinted
    • Many local police departments sponsor fingerprinting programs
    • Cedar City Police Department has free fingerprinting kits for parents to use at home
  • Keep kids’ medical and dental records up-to-date
  • Make online safety a priority
    • The Internet is a great tool, but it’s also a place for predators to stalk kids
    • Be aware of kids’ Internet activities and chat room “friends,” and remind kids never to give out personal information
    • Avoid posting identifying information or photos of your kids online
  • Set boundaries about the places your kids go
    • Supervise them in places like malls, movie theaters, parks, public bathrooms
  • Never leave kids alone in cars or strollers, even for a minute
  • Choose caregivers — babysitters, childcare providers and nannies — carefully and check their references
    • If you’ve arranged for someone to pick up your kids from school or daycare, discuss the arrangements beforehand with your kids and with the school or childcare center
  • Avoid dressing kids in clothing that bears the child’s name — children tend to trust adults who know their name

Teach kids safety

In the statement, the Police Department advised parents to talk to their kids often about safety.

Give them the basics on how to avoid and escape potentially dangerous situations,” the statement said.

The Police Department advised parents to teach their kids to:

  • Never accept candy or gifts from strangers
  • Never go anywhere with a stranger, even if it sounds like fun
    • Predators can lure kids with questions like, “Can you help me find my lost puppy?” or “Do you want to see some cute kittens in my car?”
    • Remind your kids that adults they don’t know should never ask them for help or to do things for them

Let kids know they should:

  • Run away and scream if someone follows them or tries to force them into a car
  • Say no to anyone who tries to make them do something you’ve told them is wrong or touch them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable
  • Always tell a parent or another trusted adult if a stranger asks personal questions, exposes himself or herself, or otherwise makes them feel uneasy; reassure kids that it’s OK to tell a parent even if the person made them promise not to or threatened them in some way
  • Always ask permission from a parent before leaving the house, yard or play area or going into someone’s home

Children should know emergency procedures

Keep these other tips in mind, as well:

  • Make sure younger kids know their name; address; phone number, including area code; and who to call in case of an emergency.
  • Review how to use 911 or a local emergency number
  • Discuss with kids what they should do if they get lost in a public place or store — most places have emergency procedures for handling lost kids
    • Remind them they should never go to the parking lot to look for you
    • Instruct kids to ask a cashier for help or stand near the registers or front of the building away from the doors
  • Point out the homes of friends around the neighborhood where your kids can go in case of trouble
  • Be sure your kids know whose cars they may ride in and whose they may not
    • Teach them to move away from any car that pulls up beside them and is driven by a stranger, even if that person looks lost or confused
    • Develop code words for caregivers other than “mom” or “dad,” and remind your kids never to tell anyone the code word
    • Teach kids not to ride with anyone they don’t know or with anyone who doesn’t know the code word
  • If your kids are old enough to stay home alone, make sure they keep the door locked and never tell anyone who knocks or calls that they are home alone

If your child is abducted

The first few hours are the most critical in missing child cases, the statement said. It is important to provide officials with information about the missing child immediately.

According to the statement:

If your child has been abducted, contact local law enforcement right away. Call 911. They’ll ask you for a recent picture of your child and will probably ask you many questions about the time and location you last saw your child and what your child was wearing.

Parents may request that their missing child be entered into the National Crime and Information Center, the statement said. Other clearinghouses can also offer support during a search for a missing child, including the Child Protection Education of America, 866-USA-CHILD, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 800-843-5678.

“After notifying the authorities, try to stay calm,” the statement said. “You’ll be able to remember details about your child’s disappearance more easily if you remain rational and logical.”

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Email: hcoombs@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • San March 15, 2015 at 9:53 am

    Growing up in CA, the police departments would recommend parents to write their child’s name and phone number (now cell #) on their torso when going into the themeparks. Avoid the little mouse hats with their names embroidered on them. For a while those weren’t even sold anymore….but I think they are back.
    Even with all the discussions and practice my 6 yo son went into an apartment owned by a lonely older woman while I was helping a friend move. He was there and then he was gone, along with my 3 year old neice…gone. She had a bowl of candy in her hand and closed the door behind them. I came unglued. The woman felt horrible when she saw how upset I was…the entire apartment building heard me screaming his name until she opened the door and he stepped out.

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