In the year 2000, there were almost 900,000 missing persons in the United States, and since 85-90% of these are children, that is almost 750,000 missing children last year or about 2,100 a day. Although many of these children are runaways, taken by a non-custodial parent or are found within several hours, about 100 missing children each year are murdered. Although many parents teach their children 'Don't talk to strangers,' that isn't always enough.
Does your child know what a 'stranger' is? Ask him. You might be surprised by his answer. Many younger children think that a stranger is someone that looks 'strange', and not just someone that they don't know. Point out somebody at the store that you don't know and ask your child if it is a stranger.
It is also important to teach your children about stranger awareness. You should review scenarios that predators may use, including offering candy or toys to get in the car, asking to help look for a lost pet, or being told they are picking your child up because you are sick. These online comic books from McGruff.com review what to do when a stranger asks if you need a ride or asks for directions. Also encourage your kids to use a buddy system when they go anywhere. Even if they are walking to school, playing outside, or shopping at the mall, your children should know to always have a friend or family member with them.
Does your child know what to do if he is approached by a stranger? Does he know a safe place to go? It is also a good idea to review plans of what your child can do if he is approached by a stranger or someone that makes him uncomfortable. He should know to yell 'NO' and run to a safe place. Other tips to keep your children safe include teaching them:
their full name, phone number and address
not to open the door when they are home alone