Last year, almost 800,000 children are reported missing in the United States. If you are a parent or guardian, your worst concern could be that your child may go missing. Summer break is in full swing, and thousands of children are out enjoying the sunshine, so parents must take special care to keep their children healthy.
Knowing the Rules has some short and simple tips... Summer Safety Tips for Parents and Guardians from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) to help improve child safety in your community:
• Go through the rules with your children on which homes they can enter while you are not there, as well as the limits of where they can and cannot go in the neighborhood.
• Be certain the children understand their full names, addresses, and phone numbers, as well as how to use the telephone. Make sure they understand what to do in an emergency and how to contact you via cellular or pager numbers. If a child is frightened or there is an accident, he or she should be able to contact a neighbor or a trustworthy adult.
• Teach your children about the vehicles on which they can sit. Children should be warned not to enter any car, whether or not occupied unless accompanied by a parent, guardian, or another trustworthy adult.
• Be sure the children understand that they do not go into pools, canals, or other bodies of water unless they are supervised by an adult.
• Since daylight hours are longer during the summer, make sure your children are aware of their curfew and that they contact you if they are going to be late. If you let your children play outdoors after dark, make sure they are wearing reflective clothes and remain close to home.
• Choose babysitters with caution. Get recommendations from families, colleagues, and neighbors. Many jurisdictions also have online access registries where people can search for their criminal records or sex offender status. Examine the babysitter's interactions with your children and inquire into their feelings toward the babysitter.
• Before enrolling the children in camps or other summer activities, look into them. Check to see how the people who deal with the children have undergone a background check. Ensure that your children can be supervised by an adult at all times and that you are aware of all events and field trips provided by the camp or program.
• Do listen to your children and maintain open lines of contact. Your children are your best source for deciding whether or not anything is in order. Teach the children to get out of potentially risky or awkward conditions as soon as possible, and exercise basic safety lessons for them. Assure them that they can tell you about something that makes them feel afraid, uneasy, or uncertain.
Following these guidelines will help guarantee that your children have a safer summer. The most important thing you will do to help prevent kidnapping is to make safety a priority for the entire family.
Families should sign up for Wireless AMBER Alert on their cell phones for added protection. The Wireless Foundation launched this industry-wide public service initiative in May 2005, allowing most of the United States over 200 million cell phone subscribers to sign in to receive free geographically specific AMBER Alert as text messages on their cell phones anytime an AMBER Alert for an abducted child in their region is released.