According to the FBI, in 2018 there were 424,066 NCIC entries for missing children. In 2017, the total number of missing children entries into NCIC was 464,324. Most children that are reported missing are runaways. Only 25% of abducted children are taken by a stranger. Mostly men are the abductor and 2/3's of the children are girls and in their teens.
These are scary statistics but at a rate of 2100 missing children daily the time is now to prepare and prevent your child from becoming part of that number.
Keep a record of all important information about your child. Fingerprinting can be done at many local events. Check with your local sheriff or police station to see if they have a program. Many offer a fingerprinting kit. You should always have an updated photo of your child once every 6 months. Keep a copy of medical records in the event of an abduction or emergency. This has information on weight and medical conditions that can be lifesaving. Any custody documents are vital. Often abductions are a result of child custody disputes. Your child should know important information as well like home address and important phone numbers including 911 and family.
Online safety should be a priority. If your child is old enough for social media make sure it is monitored. One in five teens on average have been approached with sexual solicitation online. 100% of teens who have met with a stranger they met online have gone willingly. Approximately 30% of solicitation victims are boys. Smart phones should have age appropriate blocks set up. Check with your phone provider, many of them have settings in accounts to set up each phone number.
Stranger danger must be taught from at the earliest age possible. The majority of abductions occur due to trust in the abductor. The basics of accepting gifts from strangers, speaking to them, giving out personal information, and getting into a vehicle with one are all vital for any child to understand. Avoid having your child's name on anything visible, shirts, jackets, any clothing or backpacks. Knowing basic information is the gateway for gaining a child's trust.
Opportunity is an opening for any event in life. Do not put your child in a circumstance where a predator can take advantage of the opportunity. Keep your children in eyes view and arms reach in any public place. It only takes a few moments for an abduction to happen. Do not leave children alone in a shopping cart, public restroom, or stroller. NEVER leave a child in an unattended vehicle! Children old enough to be at home alone should know the basics of not answering the door and leaving all entry areas locked. Make sure they do not let anyone know they are home alone including close friends and schoolmates.
As with any parenting responsibility communication is key. Keep open communication with your child. Teens can often be private with parents. Stay on top of what their interests are, who they associate with, and be aware of any sudden changes in personality or habits. Begin having discussions as soon as your child is able to have extended conversation about the importance of letting you know if someone has hurt them or done something that did not feel right.