Never assume your child will not be abducted, you should always act as though it could happen. It is important that you establish solid communication with your child and make sure that your child knows he/she can confide in you in case of trouble.
Teach your child the facts of abduction early. If handled simply as just another fact of life that needs to be acknowledged and dealt with, children need not be inordinately frightened by the idea of abduction.
A pedophile is usually an adult whose sexual preference is confined to youngsters. The classic pedophile preys on runaways or children from unhappy homes. He showers the child with affection. By the time sexual activity takes place, the child is often an uncomplaining partner and it goes unreported. Be aware of any adult that showers your child with an inordinate amount of attention and/or presents. No one should care more about your child than you.
- Never leave young children unattended (at home, in a parked car, shopping cart or in a public restroom).
- Have pictures taken yearly. For preschoolers, pictures should be updated quarterly.
- Keep records of fingerprints, footprints, dental and doctor information, birthmarks and birth certificates. You should keep copies of x-rays as hospitals do not keep such records for more than a few years.
- Get your child a passport. Once a passport has been issued it is both difficult and suspect to attempt to get another for that person. Contact Passport Services, Bureau of Consular Affairs in Washington, D.C. for a copy of passport procedures.
- Tell baby-sitters or friends caring for the child not to let your child go with anyone but you.
- Know who your child's friends are, where they live, and their telephone numbers.
- Make certain your child knows his/her full name, your name, address and telephone number, including area code. Teach him/her to use the telephone. Help may be available by dialing 911 or "O".
- Teach your child to avoid people they don't know and explain the concept of "stranger danger". Explain that a stranger is ANYONE they do not know.
- Teach your child that adults usually do not ask children for directions. If someone should stop in a car asking directions, tell your child not to go near the car.
- Have your child practice the buddy system until old enough that this system is not necessary.
- Caution your child not to play in deserted places. There is safety in numbers.
- Teach your child never to go anywhere with anyone who doesn't know a family "Code" word. Make it anything that is easy for your child to remember. Explain to your child that only adults responsible for them will know this code word (mom, dad, siblings, grandparents, other adult that is authorized to pick them up from school), and to never go anywhere with anyone they don't know unless they know the code word. Tell your child to keep their code a secret! (Code words are not a fool-proof safety measure, since in order for a child to ask someone what the "code word" is, they need to let them get close enough so they can hear it. In turn, they let people they don't know into their "safety zone." )
- Make sure that your child does not have his/her name on a visible place such as clothing or belongings. It makes it harder for strangers to be on a first name basis with your child.
- Explain to your child that if they are home alone not to open the door for anyone except previously designated persons. This includes a salesperson or delivery person.
- Teach your child never to answer the telephone and tell anyone that he/she is home alone. If someone should call, instruct your child to make a prepared statement such as, "Daddy/Mommy cannot come to the phone right now... can I take a message."
- Teach older children to come home at dark.
- Remind older children to phone home.
- Teach your child that if they are being followed not to hide behind bushes, but to go where there are people or to a safe house. Teach your child that it is appropriate to "make a scene" if he/she senses danger from an adult. Teach him/her to yell "HELP!", or "I DON'T KNOW YOU!", not just scream.
- Know as much as possible about your ex-spouse and his/her friends and relatives. Pay attention to threats of stealing the child. Watch for attitude changes and/or unstable behavior in your ex-spouse. Be aware of how a life-style change by you or your spouse might affect your child.
- Establish strict procedures regarding who will pick up your child from school and be meticulously consistent.
- Have your school establish a "School Call Back Program" and visitor check-in policies.