Chapter Fourteen: Kidnapping and Abduction Prevention Checklist

Creating a type of "checklist" with your child is beneficial in helping save their lives. By creating a checklist with your child, you can teach them what abduction is and what the warning signs are. They will also learn the dangers of it, and how to identify if they are being groomed before being abducted or kidnapped. If they follow the checklist, they will know to never follow the strangers lead, and to alert a trusted adult of the situation. Create and establish a pact about what to do in these situations by setting up an easy to follow along checklist that can be used in many different situations. This checklist goes in accordance with the previous chapter on educating your children how to protect themselves, but provides more of a chronological, step by step order that is easier to read and understand with your children.

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Use the following checklist to help prevent abductions in advance and minimize the risks of abductions:

  1. DESIGNATED MEETING SPOTS: Always have emergency meeting spots predetermined when going into large public places.
  2. FAMILY TALKS: Talk to your children – speaking to them about the dangers of abduction and having safety conversations with them is essential. From an early age, teach your children about strangers and the risks they pose. Go beyond the statement that they have heard from you multiple times: "Don’t talk to strangers." Explain to them what these strangers may do, and what situation they might find themselves. Role-play certain situations with them and help them focus on what to do if they were ever placed in one.
  3. BOUNDARIES: Have boundaries set with your children – be clear about your family rules and the consequences of not following them. Don’t be too harsh if they break a rule, as all children make mistakes. Just make your rules clear with them, and never exaggerate just to make a point.
  4. LOVE & SUPPORT: First and foremost, like with any other intervention and precautionary measures, establish and maintain a loving, caring, and trustworthy relationship with your child. Not only will this help you convey information between you and them, but it will also lessen any urges to ever run away or talk to strangers. This is because your child will have an infinite amount of love and respect for you that will make them less inclined to go against your authority.
  5. MEMORIZE: As children start preschool and/or kindergarten, teachers at their schools will start to practice with them their full name, address, and phone number. To prepare your child for this, it can be helpful to integrate this kind of information in everyday settings so that having your child memorize and repeat this information doesn’t become too mundane and repetitive. Instead, by teaching your children vital information in fun and inconspicuous ways, they not only learn more, but can actually have fun while doing it!
  6. EXPLAIN: Although it may seem too soon, the earlier you explain what is appropriate and what is not appropriate with your children the better. Talk about appropriate and inappropriate moves, touches, or remarks by strangers and people they know. Connect the dots for them as to why and how strangers are dangerous so they can better understand why they should never talk to them and tell you if anything ever does happen with them. Teach your children about their private parts and how no one except for you or people you designate, such as their doctor, are allowed to touch or talk about them.
  7. PRACTICE: Teach your child how to respond in extreme situations. Some good tactics include acting out scenarios and teaching them to "go crazy," by running away and yelling "help me!" Ask them to pretend they are at the mall or the grocery store, and tell them to start knocking anything and everything they see off the shelves and out of the bins. Teach them that this usually gets peoples’ attention, and they will get help from a store manager or security guard.
  8. ESTABLISH RULES: As children get older and start to go out to more places with friends or even with parents, it becomes more important to establish rules of where they can and can’t go and/or do in the neighborhood. Always remind them to call you or let you know where they are so that it becomes habitual, and you always stay informed.
  9. DECREASE RISK ONLINE: As children get older and start to become more and more attached to their electronic devices, naturally, more and more kidnappings, abductions, and sexual assaults are happening. This is because of the increased usage of Internet chat rooms and social networking sites to arrange meet-ups. To better monitor the online activities of your child, set up a family computer in a neutral and open space of the house. Warn your children of the dangers of giving out information over the Internet. Set ground rules of what sites they can go on and what they can and cannot post on those approved sites. Set up monitoring software if necessary to block and prevent certain content to be accessed.

Precautionary measures such as these ones can help if there is ever a reason to think that your child was kidnapped or abducted by a stranger or even a family member. Check with your local police department, as many of them sponsor programs to help you and your family record your fingerprints.