Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I Admit...I Lost My Child For 90 Seconds

by Gaetane Borders

It was the longest minute and a half of my life!  I was distracted by a short phone call on my cell, and averted my eyes for what seemed like a millisecond.  Yet when I looked up he was gone! I called out his name countless times across the playground.  However, I did not hear the sound of his adorable voice responding back "Yes, Mommy!"  I frantically searched for his striped blue and white shirt in the crowd of children.  Luckily, I ultimately found him playing with a four-year-old "friend" by the slides, but only after I aged two decades and grew a few grey hairs.  

Although my torment lasted only a few seconds, I know that for many parents the ending is not as happy.  Can you imagine for just one second how you would feel if your child was missing, and there was nothing that you could do to protect them from harm?  No parent should ever have to experience this. Yet an alarming number of children are abducted each day. Statistics indicate that every 40 seconds a child goes missing.  With such startling evidence of an epidemic, I believe it is important to help parents by sharing several tips about how they can prevent such a tragedy from happening to their family. The following are some things to keep in mind:

·         Don't let your child wear clothing with his or her name on it. Children are less likely to fear someone who knows their name. The reality is that although we typically tell our children not to talk to strangers, children do not have a true grasp of who can or cannot be trusted. In fact, young children often believe that anyone who knows their name is a “friend.”

·         Never leave your child alone in a public place, even in a locked car. Accompany a young child to the bathroom in a public place even if they insist that they can go by themselves. Moreover, instruct them to never play in or around public restrooms, as pedophiles often linger in these areas.

·         Accompany your child on door-to-door activities like Halloween and school fundraising campaigns.

·         Keep track of your children's Internet activity. Share email accounts and passwords. Make sure you know what sites they visit, and if they meet anyone suspicious while online. If possible, only allow computers to be in common areas such as a den or kitchen. This will make it easier to monitor internet usage.

·         Avoid having service people come to the home if your children are there alone. Remember, these individuals are considered strangers!

·         Establish a "code word" or phrase with your children. For example, tell them that they are only allowed to go with a person who knows this secret word or phrase if they were to pick them up from school. This will allow your child to know that this is a trusted person.

·         Establish safe houses where your child can go if in trouble. A safe house can be the home of a trusted friend or some other trusted individual in the neighborhood who agrees to let children make emergency calls.

·         Teach them that the police are their friends and that they can rely on them if they are in trouble. Make sure they know to dial 911 or 0 if they need assistance.

These are just a few simple ways that parents can help to protect their children. The key is to make sure that as parents, we vigilantly supervise our children because it only takes a second for misfortune to happen. If you have not already done so, make sure to visit http://www.familywatchdog.us/ to see what pedophiles are living in your community.  Make sure to look at the site frequently because it is updated regularly.  You definitely need to know who in your community preys on your children!  

Happy...and Safe Parenting

Gaétane F. Borders is President of Peas In Their Pods, an organization that helps to spread awareness about missing children of color. She has dedicated her life to helping families and children, and is a noted child advocate. Gaétane often lends her expertise to various media outlets such as CBS, CNN, and FOX. In addition, she frequently contributes to magazines and newspapers.

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