An estimated 800,000 children are reported missing every year. That is 2,000 every day or one child every 40 seconds. In the time it takes me to compose and edit this essay, 45 children will be abducted in our country! The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) analyzed more than 4,200 attempted abductions for the five year period from February 2005 to March 2010 and found that:
- 38% of attempted abductions occur while a child is walking alone to or from school, riding the school bus or riding a bicycle.
- 37% of attempted abductions occur between the hours of 2:00 PM through 7:00 PM on a weekday.
- 43% of attempted abductions involve children between the ages of 10 and 14.
- 72% of attempted abduction victims are female.
- 68% of attempted abductions involve the suspect driving a vehicle.
Additional analysis of data suggests the abductor is usually a white male about 27 years of age. Also, the first contact between victim and potential abductor occurs more than half of the time near the victim’s residence. While this information is readily available through a simple Internet search, the question of how and when we are developing a skill set in our children to help thwart abductions remains woefully unanswered.
Assuredly, there are numerous communities addressing child safety through the actions of parent-teacher groups. Is stranger safety awareness skill development an integral part of your school district’s curriculum? No one wants more responsibilities piled on their plate. Who wants to do the research and development for a plan to stress awareness skills? Obviously we do!
Our goal is to develop an educational plan that is embedded in New York State Teaching Standards. Our rationale is simple and straightforward: start including awareness safety lessons early in a child’s educational career and build on this foundation through middle school. We believe effective communication is the key. We urge parents, guardians, teachers, and administrators to visit our website and review our lesson plans and videos. Hey, wherever possible, we’ll even come to your PTA/PTO meetings to speak to your group. We’ll visit your school and present our puppet show to your younger grades. Please understand that this is our mission. There is no burden of cost to you or your group for what we do. Use us!
I re-read an article in The Palm Beach Post from February 4, 2012. It relates the sentencing of yet another child abductor and murderer in Florida. The 26 year-old had lured the child walking home from school into his yard under the pretext of petting his dog. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The victim’s mother said, “No punishment given to you will be good enough to soother our spirits.” A poem by Dale Furutami can but approach the grief of such loss.
The pain of good bye
lingers far longer than the
parting of our souls.
And we don’t have enough time in the educational year to teach our children awareness skills?
In Loving Memory of Carlie Jane Brucia
Today, February 1st, marks the anniversary of Carlie’s death.
Teach your children.