How to talk to your kids about kidnapping
The Cleveland abductions leave many parents wondering how to talk to their kids about predators.
Each year, an estimated 800,000 children under 18 are reported missing in the United States. That means roughly 2,191 times per day, parents or primary caregivers thought the disappearance was serious enough to contact law enforcement. That’s a lot of panicked phone calls.
Instead of thinking a kidnapping could never happen to your family, start a conversation with your children about how to stay safe if they are faced with a predator.
“Not Cleveland specific, but most valuable for me as a parent to teach my kids, which also pertains to creeps and wackos; to cultivate the wisdom and courage to be sensitive to trust their gut instincts and act on them even if it may sometimes make you feel mean or stupid,” says Terry Wood-Abeyta, mom of two, in California. “Your gut is usually right.”
Gallery: 11 celebrities who speak for animals
Here are some talking points to help you get started:
Teach kids to spot predators
Teach children to spot potentially dangerous actions and people. A child predator is not always obvious and can be someone a child knows, even someone quite charming.
According to the Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 49 percent of juvenile kidnappings are perpetrated by a relative or family member, compared with 24 percent by a stranger.
Here are some common traits of sexual predators.
Create a family safety plan
Create an age-appropriate safety plan with your kids. It doesn’t need to be complicated. A few basic strategies like using a buddy system or knowing their home phone number and how to call 911 can help protect kids from a dangerous situation.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children offers free safety resources for families and communities to help talk to children about safety and abduction prevention.
Teach kids to protect themselves
Experts say that in a kidnapping situation, fighting back is important. For kidnappings that result in death, the first three hours are the most critical when trying to locate a missing child. A 2006 study indicated that 76.2 percent of abducted children are killed within this short time frame.
Marylene Cloitre of the New York University Child Study Center, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that kids in an abduction situation should kick, scream and shout, “Who are you? I don't know who you are! You're hurting me! Stop it!” They should try to call attention to the state they're in.
There are some smart things kids can do to fight back, including jamming something into the car’s ignition or, if they’re in the trunk, kicking out the taillights.
Make it easy for kids to be identified
Have your child fingerprinted at your local police station. Not only is it free, it can help law enforcement officials respond more quickly if your child is abducted.
Another clever and easy idea is to keep a current photo of your kid on your cell phone.
"I have a current picture of them on my cell phone. So no matter where I was, if I couldn't find them in one second, I could identify them and say this is my child," Stephanie Kaste, mother of three, told “Good Morning America.”
Tell us: How do you talk to your kids about safety?
Readers: Calling all mom bloggers — we’re looking for fresh voices on MSN Living. Email us your samples and contact info.
Photo: How to talk to children about kidnapping / Peter Cade/Getty Images
News, stories, tips and laughs for moms & dads
Expert tips to keep your nursery as tidy as it looks the day baby moves in.
After checking out the newest baby and toddler toys at Toy Fair 2014, we rounded up this year’s top 10 must-haves.
4 ideas to try when you and your kid(s) need to shake things up
Every day will be hard, but they're supposed to be, aren't they? And most days will be amazing. They should be, too.
After playing just two games of Candy Land with my five-year-old, I usually want a nap or a glass of wine. Preferably both. Since logging countless hours of mindlessly moving around a piece of plastic, I’ve decided I want to up our game (get it?) and invest in board games that help both my preschooler and myself think, interact, and actually stay awake. Here are 10 entertaining dice, board, and card games aimed at 3-to-5-year-olds that get kids and parents alike involved and interested. And don’t tell your preschooler, but these games can even help them learn a little something while you’re at it. By Kelly Knox
The center of the family is your relationship; not the children.