Kidnapping by strangers is very rare, accounting for less than 1% of missing children cases, according to the RCMP. Still, we should all take sensible precautions:
- Never leave a young child alone in a public place not even for just a minute.
- Dont put their name on their clothing. A stranger can use it to gain their trust.
- Go along when a young child uses a public washroom, even if they protest.
- Never assume theres someone else watching out for your child. Always know where they are and whos looking after them.
- And, in case the worst happens, keep an up-to-date photo (no more than six months old) with your childs height, weight, eye and hair colour on the back, along with a description of any birth marks.
- There are also a number of things you can teach your child to help them deal safely with strangers on their own:
- As soon as theyre old enough, teach them their name, address, phone number and parents names.
- Teach them to shout, Youre not my mother! or Youre not my father! if someone tries to take them away.
- Teach them to go to a sales clerk if theyre separated from you in a store.
- Teach them to go to a police officer if theyre in trouble and one is nearby. Never frighten your child by threatening to call the police if they do something wrong.
- Give your child a code word for emergencies. That way, a stranger who doesnt know the word wont get far, even if they say something like, Come with me to the hospital; your father has been hurt.
- Teach your child to say no firmly. Practice shouting it with them. Give them permission to scream it if theyre in trouble.