Every year thousands of children disappear from their homes and communities. According to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center, there are 30,618 active missing person files for juveniles under the age of 18 as of December 31, 2019. While children go missing under a variety of circumstances, there are many things parents, caregivers, and adults can do to help prevent this from happening and keep their children safe. MCAO encourages parents to take time now and teach their children the "check first" rules, so their children are always keeping safety in mind.
- Check First: Remind kids they should always check first with a parent, guardian, or trusted adult before going anywhere with anyone, accepting anything, or getting into a car.
- Take a Friend: Encourage children to make a habit of always taking a friend with them wherever they go, even if they are playing outside.
- Tell People "No": Emphasize to children that they have a right to say no to anything or anyone that makes them feel uncomfortable, sad, or scared.
- Tell a Trusted Adult: Reassure kids that they can always come and talk to you or any other trusted adults, such as their teachers or school counselors, about anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.
In addition to teaching your children how to stay safe, it’s essential to practice these skills frequently, especially during transitional periods like the start of the school year or summer break. The following scenarios are common tricks those who look to do harm use to persuade children to come with them. Read through the following scenarios with your children and ask them what they would do in these situations.
- The Offer Trick: When a person offers a child money, toys, or other "presents". Remind children that they should always ask a trusted adult before accepting anything from anyone.
- The Help Trick: When an adult asks a child for help in an emergency situation saying they’ve lost their pet or child. Emphasize to your child that an adult should never ask children for help.
- The Friend Trick: When a person tries to persuade a child that they can be trusted because they are friends with their parents or teachers. Encourage kids to create a habit of checking with an adult before going anywhere with anyone.
We can all be proactive in our child’s safety and make it a priority while we are at home. For more information about child safety visit, MaricopaCountyAttorney.org/Child-Safety