CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - It's a sad fact that thousands of children are reported missing each year. Know how to protect your children against abduction by strangers.
What YOU should do:
- Know your child's whereabouts at all times.
- At a very early age, teach your child their name, address and telephone number and your first and last name.
- Teach them how to call 9-1-1 for help. When using the telephone for these lessons, make sure the call to 9-1-1 doesn't actually connect.
- Make sure children know how to make local and long distance telephone calls.
- Never leave children alone in a car, not even for a few seconds.
- Establish strict procedures for picking up children at school, after movies, at friends' homes, etc.
- Establish a family code word that only you, your child and a trusted relative or friend knows. Teach your child to ask for the code word when approached by someone offering them a ride.
- Remind your children to never accept a ride from someone you don't know, even if the child knows them.
- Talk to your children about child abduction in a simple, non-threatening way.
- Listen to your child when he or she discusses anyone they have met or spoken with when you weren't around.
- Have photographs taken of your children at least four times a year (especially for preschoolers). Make note of birthmarks or other distinguishing features.
- Have your child fingerprinted and store the prints in a safe, easily accessible place in your home.
Teach your children to:
- Never leave home without your permission. Very small children should play only in areas away from the street, such as a backyard, or in a play area supervised by a responsible adult.
- Never wander off, to avoid lonely places, and to avoid shortcuts through alleys or deserted areas. They are safer walking or playing with friends.
- Come straight home from school unless you have made other arrangements.
- Never enter anyone's home without your approval.
- Scream, run away and tell you or a trusted adult if anyone attempts to touch or grab them, of if a stranger offers them a ride.
- Never give any information over the telephone including their name and address, or indicate they are alone.
- Keep doors locked and admit only authorized people into the house.
Rules for baby-sitters:
- Leave a number where you, a neighbor or relative can be reached in the event of an emergency. In addition, if you have a cell phone, give the sitter that number and carry your phone with you while you're out. Make sure the battery is fully charged before you leave.
- Never allow the sitter to admit strangers into your home. The best rule: no company allowed.
- Instruct the sitter that phone use is for emergencies only, not for chatting with friends.
- Leave the number for your local law enforcement agency and tell the sitter to call immediately if there are any signs of suspicious activity or unusual noises.
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