Prevention Tips for Parents
Children – the source of our greatest joys and greatest concerns. We do everything we can think of to keep them safe, happy and healthy, yet bad things can still happen. The following are some tips to help parents help their child.
- Keep a complete description of your child. The description should include color of hair, color of eyes, height, weight, and date of birth. In addition the description should include identifies such as eyeglasses, contact lenses, braces on teeth, pierced ears and other unique physical attributes. Having the location of scars, birth marks, and the like will aid law enforcement if your child is missing. Write the description down, keep it with your “Important Papers”, and update every six months at minimum. If the child has a new injury that results in a scar, or any type of medical procedure, add it to the description immediately.
- Take color photographs of your child every six months. The photographs should be of high quality and in sharp focus so the child is easily recognizable. Head and should type portraits from different angles, like school photographs are wonderful. Make sure the photograph looks like your child, and is not a model’s pose. Candid photographs may be more representative of how your child looks than posed shots. Home videos of the child are also extremely valuable. Close up shots of your child depict a living, breathing child and may help to identify specific mannerisms your child may have.
- Ask your Dentist to prepare dental charts and prints for your child. Have the dental chart updated each time an examination or dental work is performed and dental prints are taken once every two years until your child is 18. Make sure your dentist maintains up to date x-rays. If you move, ask for copy of the charts for your own files. Place the charts in your “Important Papers” so it is quickly and easily accessible. Consider taking a bite impression of your child’s teeth. Take a two inch square of flat material like Styrofoam® and have your child bite partially through it. The bite should be strong enough to leave an impression of the upper and lower teeth. A new bite sample should be made each time your child loses or grows a tooth.
- Know where your child’s medical records are located. Medical records like x-rays can be invaluable in helping to identify a recovered child. It is important to have all permanent scars, birthmarks, permanent blemishes, and broken bones recorded. Check with your doctor on where the child’s records is stored and to access if necessary.
- Have your child fingerprinted by law enforcement. Law enforcement will give you the card after the child’s prints are taken, and do not keep a copy.
- Consider preserving a DNA sample taken from your child. There are DNA kits available, but it is easy to make your own. The first “kit” is to take an old toothbrush that has been used exclusively by your child. Allow it to air dry and place it in a brown envelope, have the child lick the envelope shut and label with the child’s name. The second “kit” requires rubber gloves, 2 cotton swabs and an envelope. Take the first swab and swab the area between where the lower right gum-line and cheek meet by twirling the swab and rubbing back and forth. Do this for 30 seconds. Allow the swab to air dry for 45 minutes. Repeat with the second swab. Place both dry swabs in the envelope, have the child lick the envelope shut and label with the child’s name. Store envelopes in a secure, cool, dark, and dry location such as a safety deposit box. DNA samples stored in this manner should be good for up to six or seven years.
- Teach your child his/her full name, you (the parents) given names, address, and telephone number (including area code for long distance). Teaching your child basic identification information is crucial. If they become separated from you, knowing this information will bring them home quicker. Show your child how to dial 911 and to ask for help. Impress on them this is for emergencies only.
- Teach your child how to make a collect call, tell your child you will always accept collect calls and to call immediately should anything unusual occur, or if anyone tells the child that you are dead or don’t love them anymore.
- Teach your child to scream “I DON’T KNOW YOU” if someone attempts to force your child to accompany them.
- Teach your child never to accept rides from anyone unless you the parent have given express permission to ride in a vehicle with that person.
- Teach your child to be wary of anyone asking them to go off alone together for any reason, for example, to find a lost puppy, etc.
- Teach your child to let you know immediately if another adult suggest keeping secrets from you, the parent.
- Teach your child that no one has the right to touch them or make them feel uncomfortable and it’s okay to tell you. Even if the child has promised not to tell, they should know to tell an adult they trust.
- Teach your child safety practices on a daily basis. Teach your child to stay in groups. There is strength in numbers. Teach your child to walk and play with others after receiving your permission. Teach your child to stay on sidewalks or at least six feet from the street. Children should stay off the street, and never approach a vehicle no matter what the occupants say.
- Never leave your child alone in a car. A child (of any age) should not be left in a car alone for a minute, even in your own driveway. The child should remain with you at all times.
- Know your child’s friends. Keep a written list of your child’s friends, including the child’s name, their parent’s names, addresses and phone numbers. Know who your child rides the school bus with, walks with to and from school, and plays with at recess.
The “NO” list
- Teach you child to say no to entering another person’s car or home without your express permission, even if the person is known to them.
- Teach your child to say no to accepting gifts from strangers or acquaintances without your permission.
- Teach you child to say no to answering the telephone or door when home alone.
- Teach your child to say no to telling anyone who asks where they live or giving their telephone number to someone they do not know.
The “KNOW” list
- Know the addresses, phone numbers, social security numbers, passport numbers and birthdays of all relatives and friends of the non-custodial parent.
- Know who your child’s friends are, and where they live as well as the phone numbers where the friend’s parents can be reached.
- Know your child’s current weight and height.
- Know where your important information is securely stored. It should be in two separate, secure locations.