The 1 Crucial Tip That Could Prevent Child Abduction

You hear the horror stories, read the headlines, and receive the AMBER Alerts to your phone. However, for most parents, the idea of child abduction is just a distant horror.

For plenty of parents, sadly, it has become a reality. However, there is one crucial tip that could help prevent child abduction. Read on to discover how you can help your children be as safe as possible.

The terrifying truth

Samuel Boehlke missing child poster

Children are abducted every single day. | National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

Over 700 kids are abducted each day. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, there were 466,900 entries for missing children (anyone under 18) in the U.S. in 2014. That doesn’t count the cases of missing children who don’t get reported because they’re thought to be runaways.

The following tips were compiled by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children as well as parents and highlight the proper steps you should follow to keep your kids safe.

Go beyond the basic and give children detailed instructions

Parents Giving Children Piggyback Ride

Educate your children to help diminish their chances of being abducted. | iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages

While all parents warn children of “stranger danger,” giving them detailed instructions like who to avoid, who to look for, and what to do in a scary situation can save their life.

For example, one parent suggests telling your kids exactly who to look for if they’re ever lost or feeling unsafe: A mother with kids. “Tell them to never go with anyone, not even a parent of a friend, or anywhere, unless you have previously agreed to that,” Dee Trillo wrote to the mom.me community, “Sadly, most cases of abductions and molestation come from relatives or people that present themselves as someone who knows the family, so they can gain the child’s trust. “

Research your resources

portrait of a group of children running on the beach

The first three hours after a child goes missing are crucial. | Stockbyte/Getty Images

There are plenty of steps you can take in case of an emergency. Create fingerprint cards with a current picture at your local police department to have on hand. Plenty of websites reveal the location of registered sex offenders, which you can use to scout near your neighborhood.

Another word of advice from Trillo: The first three hours after a child is taken are crucial. “Don’t hesitate to reach out to the authorities to release an AMBER Alert. Review the steps and educate yourself about the process, just in case.”

Know the profile of the ‘typical’ culprit

Pregnant woman holding belly

The typical culprit may surprise you. | iStock.com/tamaravidmar

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children developed a list of characteristics from an analysis of 308 cases of child abduction which occurred from 1983 through January 2017. They were usually a female who appears pregnant, frequently indicating she has a lost baby.

The abductor usually lives in the community where the abduction takes place and frequently impersonates a nurse or other “allied healthcare personnel.” While this list offers insight into potential tricks that abductors use, the website reminds readers: There is no guarantee an infant abductor will fit this description.

This 1 story is terrifying but teaches a lesson

Airplane interior, seats

There are some crazy stories about child abduction out there. | iStock/Getty Images

Shelia Fedrick, a flight attendant for Alaska Airlines, became a national hero when she saved the life of a teenage girl. Fedrick said she instinctively felt something was wrong the moment she saw a girl with greasy blonde hair sitting in a window seat, who “looked like she had been through pure hell.”

When Fedrick tried to engage the girl and her companion in conversation, the man became defensive, she said. Fedrick had a bad feeling and decided to leave a note in one of the bathrooms. “She wrote back on the note and said ‘I need help,'” Fedrick said. Fedrick says she called the pilot and told him about the passengers, and when the plane landed, police were waiting in the terminal. Sure enough, she had thwarted an attempted child abduction.

Teach your children self-defense

Karate school for adults and children

You can’t protect your child at all times; but you can teach them how to protect themselves. | iStock.com/Garsya

Parents can’t be everywhere at once, and while you can take all the necessary steps to prepare your child for the worst, external factors will always lay outside of your control. Giving your child the tools to protect themselves as best as possible is a crucial way to prevent abduction.

The common misconception is that the only way to defend yourself is by fighting back. Experts actually warn against children fighting back against their attackers. On the following page, we explain why.

This doesn’t always mean fighting back

father walking little daughter with backpack

Fighting back isn’t always the answer. | Nadezhda1906/iStock/Getty Images

Self-defense isn’t always a karate kick to the groin or mase spray. Self-defense also entails doing everything possible to avoid fighting the attacker and teaching your child to use their intuition.

“People … who are threatened and fight back … actually risk making a situation worse,” Kids Health states, “The attacker, who is already edgy … may become even more angry [sic] and violent.” The best way to handle a threat is to get away if possible. Teach your children to reduce their risks by learning the areas in which they spend time (the neighborhood, school, the park), stay close to friends and family, and travel smartly when using public transportation.