National Center for Missing & Exploited Children Releases Summer Tips to Keep Kids Safer

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Thursday, 17 July 2003

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) calls on parents to be more engaged in their children's lives. Recent news reports of children being exploited in retail stores and through the Internet underscores the seriousness of child sexual exploitation in the U.S. "Research shows that 1 out of 5 girls and 1 out of 10 boys will be sexually victimized before they reach adulthood," said NCMEC President Ernie Allen. "Awareness and preparedness are key to protecting our children. Parents must be proactive and teach their children how to be safer and these ten tips for the summer are a good starting point!"

1. CHILDREN SHOULD NEVER TELL CALLERS THEY ARE HOME ALONE. Arrange to have a neighbor or trusted adult they can call if they are scared or have an emergency. Always keep these numbers by the phone for easy access.

2. SET GROUND RULES FOR COMPUTER USE. Make sure to set reasonable rules and guidelines for computer and Internet use by your children. Computers and online services are great learning tools but bad babysitters. Teach your children to never give out personal information over the Internet.

3. ALWAYS KNOW WHERE YOUR CHILDREN ARE. Have them check first with you before they go anywhere or do anything. Ask for regular check-ins with you or a trusted adult when you're not with them, but remember that nothing takes the place of your attention and supervision of your children.

4. THERE'S SAFETY IN NUMBERS. Teach your children to always take a friend when playing or going somewhere. Remember that even older children should not go to a public restroom alone.

5. STAY ON FAMILIAR PATHS. Children should never take shortcuts without their parents' permission.

6. EMPOWER YOUR CHILDREN TO TRUST THEIR INSTINCTS. Teach your children that they have the right to say NO to any unwelcome, uncomfortable, or confusing touch or actions by others. Teach them to immediately tell you if this happens and reassure them it's okay to talk about it.

7. ENCOURAGE OPEN COMMUNICATION. Take the time to talk to your children and learn how to be an active listener. Pay attention if they tell you that they don't want to be with someone or go somewhere.

8. BE INVOLVED IN YOUR CHILDREN'S ACTIVITIES. As an active participant, you'll have a better opportunity to observe how the adults in charge interact with your children. Child molesters often seek out opportunities where they have legitimate access to kids.

9. PUT NON-IDENTIFIABLE CLOTHES ON YOUR CHILDREN. Kids should not wear clothes or carry items with their name on the outside. Someone may try to trick them by calling their name.

10. PRACTICE BASIC SAFETY SKILLS WITH YOUR CHILDREN. Teach them not to panic and to identify the safest place to go or to contact a low risk adult to ask for help in reuniting them with you, such as a uniformed security or law-enforcement officer, store salesperson with a nametag, a mother with children, or the person in the information booth. Children should never search for you by themselves, and should never, ever go off alone with anyone who claims to be trying to reunite them with you.

NCMEC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. NCMEC's congressionally mandated CyberTipline, a reporting mechanism for child sexual exploitation, has handled more than 130,000 leads. Since its establishment in 1984, NCMEC has assisted law enforcement with more than 89,000 missing child cases, resulting in the recovery of more than 73,000 children. For more information about NCMEC and for free copies of child safety information, call its toll-free, 24-hour hotline at 1-800-THE-LOST or order online at

For more information, or to contact National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, see their website at:

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