There are many types of injuries to minors and children. Some result from playground accidents or childhood accidents, but perhaps the more insidious injuries occur because someone deliberately harms a child. No parent wants to consider abduction as a possibility, but each in Florida and across the country, child abduction can occur.
Child abduction creates many hazards for a child. If a child is abducted by a stranger, that stranger obviously does not usually have the child’s best interests at heart. The abductor may harm the child intentionally. Even in custody cases where a parent abducts a child from a custodial parent, though, injuries can occur. The abducting parent may be distracted and may get into a car accident while trying to leave with the child, for example. The parent may even be neglectful accidentally, due to the stress of trying to conceal his or her whereabouts.
According to The United States Department of Justice, 49% of all child kidnappings are committed by a relative, often a parent. 27% of all child kidnappings are committed by someone the child knows. The United States Department of Justice reports that parents can help reduce the possibility of kidnapping by:
1) Supervising children. Most abductions (60%) occur in public areas such as playgrounds, school yards, and trails. Supervising children outside the home can ensure that abductions are less likely to occur.
2) Teaching children to avoid some of the common tricks that perpetrators use. Strangers will often offer a bribe, lie about an emergency, ask for help, or pose as someone in authority in order to lure a child away. Act out these possible scenarios with your children and teach them what they can do in each case to stay safe. Teach your children what police cars and police officer uniforms look like. Show your child how to stand out of reaching distance when offering directions. Teach your child to run away from a car in the opposite way it is pointed in.
3) Have a secret code word that you tell your child not to tell anyone. Tell your child that if you ever need an adult to find them and pick them up, that adult will be told the keyword. Instruct your child to never go home with an adult who does not know that secret word.
4) Select babysitters and other child caretakers carefully. Choose trustworthy caretakers and check their backgrounds to ensure that your child will be safe in their care. Always check references and hire a new caretaker if you have any nagging doubts.
5) Be prepared. Even if you take every precaution, you cannot prevent every problem. Being able to respond quickly if you think your child is abducted can ensure that your child is returned to you sooner. To that end, make sure that you take pictures of your child at least every six months. Keep these photos in your wallet and at home. Keep a complete written description on your child at home. This should include height, weight, hair and eye color, and any distinguishing features. If your child is missing, you don’t want to overlook anything important. Make sure your child’s dentist maintains current dental records for your child and keep copies if your child’s fingerprints as well.