Nearly 20,000 Ohio children went missing in 2016

Police talk about stranger danger

FAIRVIEW PARK, OH (WOIO) - Nearly 20,000 Ohio children went missing in 2016.

More girls than boys went missing, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Anyone can be abducted or attacked, but kids are soft targets.

"As a parent you should be aware of where your children are at, and your children should be aware of their surroundings," Fairview Park Police Lieutenant Paul Shepard said.

When the warm weather comes, we come out of our coats and homes to enjoy the great outdoors. We walk, go for a bike ride and also bring our kids out to play.

But, the question is how do we keep ourselves and our children safe?

"Have the child be aware of if things don't look right, if somebody does need help okay I'll go get my mom and dad and they'll help you," Shepard said.

Several businesses on the Lorain corridor have made themselves available and identify themselves with a sticker showing it's a safe spot.

This allows a kid who feels unsafe to go into one of those businesses until a police officer arrives at the situation.

Shepard was a big help in getting us answers. The parents we talked with seem to be aware of the dos and don'ts as well.

Melissa Mandula brought her 2-year-old son and her 4-year-old daughter to enjoy the sun today.

"Now, that it's getting nicer outside my husband and I have made sure to have a conversation with her regarding strangers," Mandula said.

But what if you're attacked, what then? Again Shepard of the Fairview Park Police Department.

"You kick, you scream, you fight, you draw as much attention as you can. Do not cooperate. Do not get into a vehicle. If the child has a cell phone make them aware what the 9-1-1 feature is so they can just say stranger danger. 9-1-1 help. I need help," Shepard said.

No need to be paranoid, but it pays to pay attention and report any suspicious activity you see. If we help each other, more of us will be safe, kids included.

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