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Street-Proofing Children

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.
  • Don’t 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 there’s someone else watching out for your child. Always know where they are and who’s looking after them.
  • And, in case the worst happens, keep an up-to-date photo (no more than six months old) with your child’s 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 they’re old enough, teach them their name, address, phone number and parents’ names.
    • Teach them to shout, “You’re not my mother!” or “You’re not my father!” if someone tries to take them away.
    • Teach them to go to a sales clerk if they’re separated from you in a store.
    • Teach them to go to a police officer if they’re 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 doesn’t know the word won’t 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 they’re in trouble.


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