Abduction safety

After Abduction: Zero to 24 Hours

After a child abduction, a positive parental response in the first 24 hours is essential. After the first 24 hours, the chances of a stolen child being returned are ever diminishing. During the first minutes and hours following an abduction, the parents, more than anyone else, are the most important factor in maximizing the chances of their child being returned quickly and safely. The horrible emotional experience can easily become a hindrance to rescue efforts if panic takes over.
By Alan and Shonna Hammond
After a child abduction, a positive parental response in the first 24 hours is essential.   After the first 24 hours, the chances of a stolen child being returned are ever diminishing. During the first minutes and hours following an abduction, the parents, more than anyone else, are the most important factor in maximizing the chances of their child being returned quickly and safely. The horrible emotional experience can easily become a hindrance to rescue efforts if panic takes over. The following are positive actions that parents can take to increase their chances of their child returning home.
  • As soon as you realize your child has been abducted, contact local law enforcement official. Always be prepared to supply a complete, detailed description of your child, from the clothes they were wearing, to their physical appearance, to identifying marks, to their normal demeanor. Ensure officials know everything you can recall about any physical location of the abduction. Also supply any other possible circumstances surrounding the abduction and any efforts you may have already taken to find the child prior to notifying authorities.
  • Ensure that law enforcement officials enter your child and information into the National Crime Information Center ([tag-ice]NCIC[/tag-ice]} Missing Persons File. Also request that a BOLO (Be On the Look-Out) alert be issued for your child. After reporting the disappearance to local law enforcement, ask them to notify the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the abduction.
  •  Your home may contain information that will be valuable to investigating officials. As a result, you should limit access to the home until investigators have had the opportunity to complete their investigation of your home. You may not have considered it, but your child’s bedroom, clothing, toys, computers, or any other personal items may hold clues to locating him.
  •  Make sure to get the name of the investigating officer responsible for handling your child’s case. Doing this will provide you with a valuable line of communication for additional information you may recall or receive, as well as provide you with a means to keep up to speed on the progress of the investigation. 
  • Make a written list of people, such as friends, family members or acquaintances, who may have had recent contact or who may have information pertaining to the disappearance. Other information, such as persons who have had conflicts with your family, people who have moved from your neighborhood or someone who may have displayed an unusual interest in your child, could also be helpful. 
  • Get copies of recent photos of your child that clearly show their face and appearance. You will want to provide these photographs to law enforcement, media outlets, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). Also, your state will have a missing children program that will assist in distribution of photographs and pertinent information. Ask investigating officials to assist you in contacting the media, the NCMEC and other agencies that can assist you in making fliers and mass distribution of your information. You can contact the NCMEC directly at 800-THE-LOST (800-843-5678) to ask for help in flier distribution. Remember, while the search for your child is young, the more information you can distribute to the most people increases the chance of a safe return.
  • Make sure to keep track of all information you receive, from law enforcement contacts, to persons calling your home. A written record of such information, along with writing down any questions or details you may recall, may also be helpful.
  •  The  [tag-self]Amber Alert[/tag-self] system has been a fantastic development in tools available to parents and officials who are searching for abducted children. Ensure that officials take full advantage of the [tag-tec]Amber Alert[/tag-tec] system. 

There is never a better time than right now to formulate a plan of action in the unlikely event that your child is abducted. The emotions you encounter should your child become missing may overwhelm you and prevent rational thinking and actions in the first moments after an abduction. Having a formal plan will prevent the loss of time while you try to think of what to do next. 

Biography
Alan Hammond is a law enforcement official, freelance writer and former educator. Shonna Hammond is a master teacher, writer and consultant.  The Hammonds reside in Lexington, Kentucky and they can be reached in care of this publication or at ashwriting@insightbb.com.


No part of this article may be copied or reproduced in any form without the express permission of More4Kids Inc © 2006