In 2020, Texas residents filed nearly 50,000 missing persons reports — almost 30,000 of those were children.
One way to keep your child from becoming a statistic is to download this free child ID kits, which parents can complete with useful personal information and emergency contact information.
Apps have become more high-tech and advanced than when I was younger. I had a flip-phone in high school, and the apps were minimal. My children are in middle and high school, and they have smart phones that have all sorts of capabilities and apps.
With those phones I’ve have had to remind them about possible issues with social media. It feels like new issues pop up all the time. A great resource for identifying and navigating those is “Keeping Your Kids Safe on Social Media: A Parenting MUST.” This article talks about warning signs, apps to avoid, and ways kids can circumvent parental controls.
In my house, we check their phones randomly. I have an app on my phone that notifies me when they download an app. This helps to keep them and me accountable for what is on their phones. I do a phone check at least twice a month, and when doing this, I check for apps that target children or images on their phones that are inappropriate.
I use Family Link on Google. This app enables me to set up accounts for each of my children. This app allows me to see how long my child has been on an app. Family Link also enables me to set a timer for screen time.
These apps offer the ability to block pornography sites, create web filters, and more.
Here are a few phone-related tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children:
- No phones/tablets used in bathroom.
- Make sure your children are using their real ages when downloading apps/ games.
- Charge all devices (phones/ tablets) overnight in another room that is not the child’s bedroom.
We all want to keep our children safe. The best way to do this is to be vigilant. That also applies when going out in public, like going to the store. Make sure to give your child some ground rules before going into the store. Remind your child to stay beside you and what to do if he or she becomes lost or someone unfamiliar approaches.
Create a word that is unique to each child, so he or she knows only to go with the person who knows this word. My teens think this is funny, but today they still remember not to go with someone who does not know our special word.
With the advancements in technology we need to be cautious to who are children meet online. There have been many stories lately about teens who have met others online through social media, or through gaming and fall victim.
The term “grooming” needs to know and understood by children and parents alike. “Grooming” means when a person attempts to earn a child or teen’s trust by giving them gifts. Through this act the perpetrator wants the exchange of a sexual act or some form of physical contact to be repaid.
Here are a few ways to spot grooming:
- Acquires unexplained new toys or gifts.
- Talks about a particular adult and wants to be alone with him or her.
- Does not want to talk about what he or she has been doing with the adult.
- Becomes closed off and unwilling to talk.
- Receives messages from someone online and has never met.
- Involved in a relationship with a much older person.
- Skipping school or activities.
- Begins to lie and secretive of their activities.
It is necessary to keep those tips in mind when your child is active online, but also when you are at the store.
It takes less than 90 seconds for a child to go missing. As a community, it is our duty to be vigilant and make sure every child is safe.
In the event your child goes missing inside a store, immediately notify the store staff. Most stores have procedures set up that will help locate a missing child. Show the store the most recent picture of your child and the clothes he or she was wearing, as well as whatever you think an officer may need to know in regard to medical conditions.
Read the article, written by a local police officer, “Safety in the Age of Abduction :: 12 Tips from a Police Officer Mama.”
Another issue children or teens go missing is because of their home situation. I myself ran away when I was a teenager. I thought the issue that I was going through my parents would never understand. As a teen all those feelings and the need to hide parts of myself felt insurmountable. During this time it is key to keep open those lines of communication. Let your child know that whatever is happening they have you to be there no matter what happens.
We all want the same thing as parents, to keep our children safe. I tell my children that it is best to be overly cautious than not cautions enough.
We as a community must keep our children safe, what are some tips that you have to keep your children safe?