Sheriff's Office

Child Protection – Abduction and Harm: Prevention Tips for Parents and Guardians

Many parents and guardians feel they are faced with new and unprecedented challenges when trying to keep their children safer in today’s fast-paced society. Younger children should be supervised by you or another trusted adult, a person you have come to rely on and with whom you and your children feel comfortable. You should teach older children how to recognize and avoid potentially dangerous situations.

You should not expect your children to rely solely on their judgment about people, even if the person is someone known to you or your family. It is also important not to confuse children with the concept of "strangers." The "stranger-danger" message is not effective, as danger to children is often much greater from someone they or you know. The important message to teach children is to get out of potentially dangerous situations as quickly as possible, no matter whom the person is.

The thought of your children being abducted may leave you feeling frightened and unsure about how to best protect them. In an analysis of more than 8,000 attempted abductions, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® found 40% involved children between the ages of 10 and 14; 72% involved the suspect driving a vehicle; and 83% involved a child who did something proactive to escape the would-be abductor including walking, running, pulling away, yelling, kicking, attracting attention and/or otherwise resisting.

The analysis also revealed the five most common tricks used by individuals attempting to abduct a child included offering a child a ride, offering the child candy or sweets, asking the child questions, offering the child money or using an animal.

What can parents/guardians do?

  1. Instruct your children to always take a friend when going places, and stay with a group while attending school outings and/or standing at the bus stop.
  2. Teach your children the appropriate steps to take if approached or followed, such as loudly yelling "This person is trying to take me!" 
  3. Instruct your child to make every effort to escape by running, pulling away, kicking, etc. 
  4. Teach your children it is more important to get out of a threatening situation than it is to be polite. It is okay to be impolite and say "No!" 
  5. Talk openly to your children about safety and encourage them to tell you or another trusted adult if anyone makes them feel sad, scared or confused. 
  6. Practice basic safety skills with your children by creating "teachable moments" to make sure they understand the safety messages and are able to use them in real life situations. 
  7. Be involved in your children’s activities. By participating you have a better opportunity to observe how adults in charge interact with children. 
  8. Remember to never leave children unattended in a vehicle, whether it is running or not. 
  9. Know where your children are and whom they are with at all times. Make it a rule for your children to check-in with you on a regular basis. Teach your children to never leave school with anyone unless they check with you first, even if someone tells them it’s an emergency. 
  10. Remember you are your best resource for better safeguarding your family. Stay alert, informed and focused about personal security issues. Take time to listen to your children, it will help them build a feeling of safety and security.

Source: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children  @