Tuesday, May 25, 2010

May 25th is National Missing Childrens' Day

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan declared May 25th as National Missing Children's Day in honor of Etan Patz who disappeared on this day in 1979. 

According to http://www.missingkids.com/, an estimated 800,000 children are reported missing in the United States each year.  That amounts to 2,000 children per day which is a tragic statistic.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children  has a signature safety publication called "Knowing My Rules for Safety" which outlines the following safety rules for children:
  • I CHECK FIRST with my parents, guardians, or other trusted adults before going anywhere, helping anyone, accepting anything, or getting into a car.
  • I TAKE A FRIEND with me when going places or playing outside.
  • I TELL people "NO" if they try to touch me or hurt me. It’s OK for me to stand up for myself.
  • I TELL my trusted adult if anything makes me feel sad, scared, or confused.  
The Missing Kids website mentioned earlier recommends the following actions for parents & guardians of children:
  • Speak to your child in a calm and reassuring way. Fear is not an effective teaching tool; confidence is.
  • Speak openly about safety issues. If you approach child safety openly, your children will be more likely to come to you with problems or concerns.
  • Don’t confuse children by warning against “strangers.” Danger to children is much greater from someone you or they know than from a “stranger.”
  • Teach children that no one has the right to force, trick, or pressure them into doing things they don’t want to do.
  • Practice safety skills by creating “what if” scenarios. An outing to a mall or the park can serve as a chance for children to practice safety skills, such as checking with you before they go anywhere or do anything, and locating adults who can help if they need assistance.
  • Supervise your children. It is vital to their protection and safety. Children should not be put in the position of making safety choices if they are not old enough or skilled enough to make those choices.
  • Check out adults who have access to your children. The more involved you are in your child’s life, the less likely it is that your child will seek attention from other, potentially dangerous adults.
While we normally spend time on this website focused on providing safety tips for natural hazards, it is also important to consider all aspects of safety and preparation where our loved ones are concerned. 

Ask yourself today if the children in your life know how to respond to dangers from others who might cause them harm.  And, if not, take a few minutes today to talk with them about how to confidently prepare and respond to these types of situations.

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