"Where oh where can my Baby be..."
The quote refers to the 1964 song Last Kiss by The Cavaliers. Hopefully, the lyrics won't ever be appropriate for you or your children. Neither do you want the following scenario to play out: You're in the back of the house, doing laundry and your eight-year-old daughter, Caitlyn, is playing quietly in the den, fifty feet away. You don't hear the gentle knock on the front door, but Caitlyn does. Ten minutes later, you walk up front to check on her. Caitlyn is gone, of course. The FBI reports 800,000 children abductions every year. How could you have prevented Caitlyn's kidnap?
Here are the ten best actions to protect your child from predators:
- Conduct searches for Criminal Arrest Records of your neighbors, friends, relatives, friends of relatives. You can do this without the person knowing you investigated them.
- Encourage and reinforce your children's rules of conduct. Don't use fear to get their attention and to always be afraid of strangers. The FBI says family members commit 350,000 abductions yearly, so teaching them to fear only strangers still leaves them vulnerable.
- Keep close track of your children. When they go out to play in the neighborhood, define "neighborhood", establish clear boundaries. Additionally, set a time to come home.
- Help them memorize important phone numbers. Home, parents' cells, parents' work, etc. Don't overload them with too many numbers, three or four max.
- Keep vital records and update them often. Put files in your computers, cell phone, and hard copies in a file folder. Take pictures every four months so you will have current photos available.
- Put limits on using the internet and monitor them. On most devices, you can customize access with age limitations, blocking websites…
- Do an online search through a background check service for sex offenders to get a list of predators in your area.
- Establish a family password and help everybody in the family memorize it. Say you need someone outside the family to pick up the children, they need the password or the children won't go with them.
- Go over safety procedures with babysitters or others who may be with the kids when you're gone.
- Have sit-downs occasionally and run through some possible situations and what would they do, i.e., "What if we get separated at the mall?"