Published July 17, 2002
Most of the more than 350,000 children abducted in America each year are taken by relatives. Random abductions by strangers are rare but terrifying; experts offer the following tips to parents for trying to avoid them.
—Teach your children in whose car they may ride. Children should be cautioned never to approach any vehicle, occupied or not, unless accompanied by a parent or trusted adult. If a stranger asks for directions or assistance, the child should tell them to ask an adult.
—Create an atmosphere in your own home where your children feel safe confiding information about uncomfortable experiences. Ensure a sense of confidence in your children that you will believe them and be responsive to them if they need your help.
—Tell your child not to go out alone — always take a friend, sister, or brother. Teach them always to tell an adult where they are going, and never to take a ride with someone they don't know.
—Discuss with your children whose homes in the neighborhood they can visit, and the boundaries of where they can and can't go in the neighborhood.
—Make sure your children know their address and telephone numbers, and how to use the telephone. Be sure they know what to do in an emergency, and, if appropriate, how to reach you using cell phones or pagers. Make certain they do not tell anyone who calls that they are home alone.
—Don't drop children off alone at malls, movies, video arcades or parks.