Fathers, take a moment to feel peaceful love for your children. Then check out these important tips to make your child safer and protect your precious offspring from lurking danger.
1. NOW I KNOW MY ABC If your child is old enough to learn their ABCs, then teach them their phone number instead of 1, area code and number. From the age of two, children must know their first and last names, your first and last names and complete address, including your city and state.
2. ROLE PLAY What if no one picked you up at school? What if someone knocks on the door with a package for you? What if Mom falls down and can’t get up? What if someone told you we were dead or sick and wanted you to go to the hospital? Do you tell someone on the phone that you are home alone? Teach your child to make an emergency call by calling “911” or “0” in an emergency. Law enforcement agencies would rather send an officer on a false alarm and then have a child injured or kidnapped.
3. SECRET WORD AND PLACE Always determine a designated venue in theme parks or malls such as easily recognized McDonald’s restaurants. Many children who are separated from their parents do not consider themselves “lost” if they are still having fun. Be sure to clearly define “lost” as not in mother or father. Make a secret passport statement that no adult could guess, and it’s a fun visual image that your child will remember, such as “The Blue Hippo is Hungry.” Teach your child to request permission from their parent, teacher or babysitter before traveling anywhere.
4. TINGLY TUMMY Children have no experience with evil doers, but they have survival instincts. They may not recognize a kidnapper or a predator other than a funny sensation in their stomach that warns them of excruciating danger. Encourage this attention by asking them in different situations, “Do you feel safe, does this feel right, can you feel danger?” when contemplating jumping from a high place, reaching for the pets of a strange dog, or when near a friendly stranger or a loud thug.
5. NEED TO BE APPROVED We teach our children to calmly join adults, but if taken by a stranger, your child will learn to cast a full-blown rage, shout, “Kidnapper, help” as he kicks and tries to break free. Once gone, they may go to an in-store employee, to a police officer or to a family for help if they are lost, afraid of a kidnapping or predator attempt. Ask your child not to get lost in a public place because someone might be trying to steal them.
6. SMILE Police need a full face photo taken within the last six months, or if your child is under two, four times a year. Prepare a set for each child who is an emergency box. Place a current photo, a detailed description of your child, including height, weight, age, eye and hair color, birthmarks, broken bones, scars, moles, physical characteristics or medical needs inside the box. Include the names, addresses and parents’ names of your child’s friends, favorite parks and activities. Ask your dentist to prepare a complete dental record of your child that will be updated with each new tooth change. Ask your doctor for a copy of your child’s medical records and remind them to note on their card that information should never be released without your written approval. Consider holding a sealed envelope in an old toothbrush, baby teeth, a bloody ribbon aid, or a hair lock as a DNA sample for the highest level of identification. Arrange with your local police department to get your child fingerprinted (officers make it easy and fun) and give you the fingerprint card. Imagine if someone said your child belonged to them, not you. The contents of the box help prove that you are a parent and help the police find the child if he or she is missing.
7. ONLY FOR ANOTHER A tired, burnt out parent only needs to drop their guard for a moment to give a predator time to act. Always accompany your child to the bathroom, even if other adults are acting uncomfortable. To protect your child, never hesitate to take a child with you to a men’s or women’s restroom, regardless of the child’s gender rather than sending them in alone. A child cannot safely play unattended in your garden, walk alone, alone at home, or left in a vehicle, ever. The parents who have a toddler drawn to them may seem harsh, but imagine how you would feel if your adorable, attention-defying child or unruly toddler walked in the opposite direction. When you have two or more children, the difficulty of maintaining safety and order can grow exponentially.
8. YOU WERE EXTRA TO BE SEEN Does anyone drink while watching the kids and protesting that it is only a couple of beers? Someone must be the designated caregiver and be sober, alert, skilled and kind. Become aware if your spouse or babysitter seems forgetful or less sensitive to their duties. Depression, illness, alcohol and drug use in a caregiver can leave a child almost unattended. Don’t let it continue. If a spouse wants to drink while on duty, sell the car and rent a daycare to keep your children safe. Drop in childcare and daycare unexpectedly. Sit around and watch for a while. Listen to what your child is saying that happens after you are gone.
9. Check yourself Are you attracted to younger and younger people? Do your friends whistle with wolves for young girls? Are you looking at pornography that uses young teenage girls or boys made to look older? Usually, wave paths succumb to posing for these photographs because they are poor or on drugs. Buying this kind of pornography helps you take advantage of these children. “Developing and advocating” model law “on child pornography is crucial to a successful outcome in the fight against child pornography. There is currently only strong child pornography legislation in place in only 5 of the 186 Interpol member states.” (http://www.icmec.org/missingkids). Were you abused as a child? Sometimes, if you were a victim, you become extremely tuned and more protective. Yet too often fear comes in and leaves you powerless to protect a child even when the truth is right in front of your eyes. Talk to a therapist confidently and regain your ability to protect your children and others from knowing what you experienced.
10. CAN THEY TELL YOU Usually, a child will try to tell an adult about molestation or incest once. If you don’t believe them or tell them they’re lying, they often don’t tell anyone again. Tell a child that you will listen to them, believe them, and stop anyone trying to harm them, even if the perpetrator is your best friend, grandfather, relative or neighbor. Unfortunately, the child often knows the person who is hurting them and this causes great confusion and guilt on the part of the child. If a child is scared or trying to avoid someone, pay attention, they ask for your help. Some people tease and joke about grabbing and touching a child, then crying at them if they complain. These adults use your child and hide behind humor. Stop them. When your child puts personal information on their clothes or the Internet, it is an open door to any scumbag in the world. Just say no to your child and explain why.
11. NEWBORNS In the last twenty years, the largest number of infant abductions has been in California, Texas and Florida. The profile of a typical abductor is an obese woman who usually plans the abduction in advance and benefits from an opportune moment to seize a baby. The woman often imitates a nurse or health care professional and enters a hospital room and takes the baby for tests, etc. But an abductor can be anyone. “While it is normal for new parents to be anxious, being aware of the newborn is of the utmost importance. Never leave your infant out of your direct view even when going to the bathroom or taking a nap. If you leave the room or planning to go to sleep, alert the nurses to take the baby back to the nursery, or have a family member watch the baby … If you are uncomfortable with someone requesting to take the baby, or are unable to clarify what tests are performed, or why your infant is taken from your room, it is appropriate to go with your infant to monitor the procedure … have at least one color photograph of your infant (fully front view) taken with the footprint and prepare a complete written description of your infant including hair and eye color, length, weight, date of birth and specific physical characteristics. “(www.missingkids.com)
12. CALL THEM
Professionals are ready to help you. “Since 1982, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has been at the forefront of national efforts to prevent child abduction and return missing and exploited children to their families. In collaboration with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), NCMEC continues with to strengthen and expand its ability to provide critical intervention and prevention services to families and support law enforcement agencies at the federal, state and local levels. “(http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/fs200128.pdf). The Kentucky Missing and Exploited Children Unit was organized in 1984 to create a centralized clearing center to help law enforcement agencies locate and return missing children to their homes. Many stores, like Walmart, have one Code Adam Action Plan – If a child is missing from the store, employees immediately mobilize to look for the missing child.
Check it out http://www.missingkids.com. http://criminaljustice.state.ny.us/missing/i_safety/icac.htm and http://www.take25.org for more information. The reality of today’s world requires parents to be vigilant and take precautions and preventative measures to prevent kidnapping, exploitation, internet crimes, pornography and violence. Take the lead, fathers, when you protect your children by being there, being vigilant and being reliable guardians.