In 2015 45,288 children were reported missing in Canada. In the United States, a child goes missing or is abducted every 40 seconds.

It’s staggering, but it’s reality.

Here are 5 tactics that every parent and child should know about to prevent child abduction:

1.Don’t assume what ‘Stranger’ means.

When parents use words like ‘stranger’ children make a mental picture of someone foreboding. Someone who you can smell a mile away, or someone hideous. When in actuality, a stranger can look like a normal, non-threatening person to a child. Make sure your children know who they can and cannot talk to, and what to do if someone they don’t know won’t leave them alone.

2.Think before you act.

Children should know how to respond when they are approached by someone who they do not know (a potential predator). Pedophiles know that scared children respond in a predictable manner – which is what they want. But if your child knows what to do they won’t be scared, they’ll be smart. When you’re smart you aren’t predictable.

3.Learn to observe how people act.

It’s impossible for a child to discern if a person is good or bad based on their appearance. Children need to learn to recognize actions that are unacceptable. For example: If an adult is driving past a child and smiles then keeps driving, that is perfectly fine. However, if that adult then pulls over and offers to give the child a ride, that is not okay.

Also, if a child is approached by, or is being followed by a car they should immediately turn and walk the opposite direction as the car. This makes it harder to follow.

4.Tell them to act out.

It is important that children know that normal, acceptable rules of behavior do not apply if someone is trying to take them against their will. They need to know that they can do ANYTHING to get attention. If the child is in a store, they should knock things off shelves. Even better if the stuff is expensive because it forces authorities to get involved. A child who feels threatened should scream, kick, bite, pee their pants, throw things, knock things over, ANYTHING THEY CAN to cause a ruckus and get other people involved. They child needs to know that if they feel threatened they can exhibit bad behavior and not be punished for it.

5.Procure a Passport.

If someone is trying to take a child and get a passport for them, they will have a lot more trouble if that child already has a passport. It’s not impossible, but it does slow the process and that extra time can be invaluable when authorities are trying to recover the child.

Children should not feel fear when talking about this subject, they should be afraid of not talking about it. Parent’s need to address this topic frequently, not just once a year. Parents need to teach their kids and arm them with skills to protect themselves.

Extra Tips:

  • If you don’t drive your kids to school daily, travel with them every couple of weeks. Know their route, and the people they interact with. Most commonly abductors are people known by your child and may even be someone they speak with on a regular basis.
  • Teach your kid to always check with mom or dad before going with another adult. Let them know they can tell you anything.
  • Don’t use GPS as your failsafe protector for your child. Predators are familiar with this technology and can easily disable it. Instead, give your child an ID bracelet, on the back of it put the word ‘REWARD’ and your phone number. Tell your child to rip it off and drop it if they are ever accosted. Then someone will find it and contact you. Police have a much greater chance of relocating your child if they have a clue to go off of.
  • If your child ever goes missing, tell law enforcement of the tactics you’ve taught your child. They can work those clues into their search.