I would like to take a moment to remind all parents of the importance of using good child and teen safety measures and making children and teens aware of stranger danger and predators.
As many of us have seen many times from news shows, predators are constantly on the prowl. They use everything from toys to the internet to lure innocent and trusting children and teens. To think any person would harm or attempt to harm a child absolutely outrages me. As human beings and parents, we have enough to worry about without having to worry about some sick individual harming our children. Mt. Juliet is a wonderful place to live, shop and raise a family, but unfortunately, predators know no boundaries when it comes committing their evil acts.
With that in mind, did you know that every day, 2,300 children are reported missing in the United States? The hard work of dedicated people and technology resources can bring back as many as 90 percent of these children. The question is what happens to the other 10 percent?
A missing child is a parent’s worst nightmare. Statistics show in 1990, there were more than 650,000 missing persons reported to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center. In 1994, there were 954,896 reports, an increase of more than 43 percent. The FBI estimates out of all the entries, 85-90 percent were children. Applying to the 85 percent estimate there were at least 812,000 missing child reports filed or 2,225 children reported missing in the United States every day in 1994. That is why it is so important to take all preventive measures available to assure that this parent’s worst nightmare never happens.
Helpful tips for protecting your child include:
• Don’t let your child wear clothing with his or her name on it except for sporting events where parents and guardians are present. Allowing your child to wear his or her team jersey with their name on it while out playing could give a predator an opportunity at gaining your child’s trust. A child will tend to pay attention or acknowledge someone calling out their first name and assume that the person knows them. Using last names on jerseys is a much safer practice than first names.
• Videotape and take pictures of your child two or three times per year, including profile shots, do not leave children unattended while shopping, visiting with friends or unattended in automobiles.
• You also want to watch your teen’s use of the internet and other teen computer sites. Predators are known for luring children and teens with any and all measures, including cellphone and texting.
We should also know the whereabouts of our children at all times. Children should know the importance of advising their parents and guardians where they will be and where they are going, contact phone numbers and addresses. Children should also have emergency contact information on them at all times with as much information about them as possible, including address, phone numbers and parent’s names. We must be aware of our surroundings at all times and use extreme caution in all areas. We must be on guard even in public places. The days of predators only attacking and abducting in dark alleys and in the dark of night are long over. Today’s evil and sick predators are bold criminals who act upon impulse knowing no time frames, no boundaries and no mercy for their victims. That’s why we must use any and all preventive measures when preparing and protecting our children. No time spent on this most paramount of issues is a waste of time or troubling when it comes to our children. We must also do all we can to alert our teens as well. Although they may not feel like children any longer, they will always be our children, and they still lack the necessary tools and experience to know what to look for in a predator.
My heart cries out for the many parents suffering the unknown whereabouts of their child. We all know children are God’s greatest gift, a treasure sent from Heaven above, and we must do all we can to protect them.
Kenny Martin is city manager in Mt. Juliet.