National Child Safety and Protection Month
Even though I am the State Director for Marsy’s Law for Florida, the most important job I have is Daddy. As a dad to two beautiful little girls, I don’t know of a parent out there who has not experienced the panic of not knowing where their child is. It isn’t hard for a child to wander off in Publix, Macy’s, at the playground or park, or even from your own yard (I know all of these from experience).
As a dad and husband, our family tries to take all the proper precautions for the physical safety of our girls – car seats, seatbelts, bed rails, helmets, and training wheels. We have talked with the girls about never talking to, getting into the car with, or accepting anything from strangers.
Even from a young age, we explain to the girls that “no means no.” In our house, we don’t have secrets, with the rule of “If someone tells you not to tell Momma or Daddy because it’s a secret… the first thing you do is tell Momma or Daddy. And we won’t be mad.”
All of this being said, this is why November, as National Child Safety and Protection Month, is so important to my family and families across Florida.
Working with victims, victims’ families, and advocacy groups has led me to the conclusion that you should consider putting together a plan for what to do if your child is taken or goes missing.
The first thing you need is a current photo identification. This photo will improve efforts to locate a missing child. Keep a recent photograph on your smartphone.
Another important tool is to fingerprint your children because a child’s appearance will change even in a short time. (Look at Facebook pictures of your kids from six months ago. Boy, do they change!) Fingerprints are the best way to identify a missing child.
Contact your local police department to ask if the department provides home fingerprinting kits. Some departments will do the fingerprinting for you. If your local police department does neither, you can easily find fingerprint kits for sale online: http://www.yoursafechild.com/ or http://www.fingerprintamerica.com/
The final piece of advice I have is to know your child’s schedule during the day and especially secret places they like to hide. My youngest likes to hide under the desk, under the bed, and behind doors. She is sneaky and very quiet.
Thankfully, most children are recovered quickly. Even with the best of efforts of parents, nearly 2,100 children a day, or two children a minute, are reported missing. Having an action plan will help should your child go missing.