Preventing Child Abduction
by Amy Scholten, MPH
Thousands of children are reported missing each day. Some children are lost, and some run away. Others are kidnapped by a family member. Still others disappear without leaving any clues behind. There are things you can do to help your child stay safe.
To reduce the risk of your child being abducted:
Talk to Your Children
Many parents find it hard to talk to their children about personal safety. They worry that they will scare their children or cause them to be distrustful. Help your child feel more secure and confident about personal safety. Here are some tips:
Be Sensitive to Your Child’s Fears
Ask your child about their fears. Tell them that you want to help. Never criticize your child for their fears or concerns. Let your child know they can discuss any problem or concern with you—without fear of judgment.
Explain the Possible Danger
Parents often give their children safety rules but do not explain why. Always explain the possible danger in situations. For example, many parents tell their children not to talk to strangers. This is vague and does not teach children how to protect themselves. It also does not consider situations where children might need to ask a stranger for help. Many times, a kidnapper is a relative or someone else that a child knows—not a stranger. So always be specific when talking to your child about danger.
Teach Your Child How to Handle Possible Danger
Give examples of situations that could be dangerous. Teach your child what to do. Role-playing may be helpful, too.
Tips for Older Children and Teens
Here are some tips for keeping your older children and teens safe:
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Safe Kids Worldwide
Missing Children Society of Canada
Child abuse—sexual. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/child-abuse-sexual. Accessed November 3, 2021.
Help prevent your child from going missing: safety tips from the AAP. Health Children.Org—American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/all-around/Pages/Preventing-Child-Abductions.aspx. Accessed November 3, 2021.
Key facts. National Center for Missing & Exploited Children website. Available at: https://www.missingkids.org/ourwork/impact. Accessed November 3, 2021.
Preventing abductions. Kids Health—Nemours website. Available at: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/abductions.html. Accessed November 3, 2021.
Victims and family support. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children website. Available at: https://www.missingkids.org/gethelpnow/support. Accessed November 3, 2021.
Last reviewed November 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Last Updated: 11/3/2021
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