Missing Children: Understanding the Crisis
While there are no definitive statistics on the subject, it is likely that many missing children have runaway from their homes. There are many possible motivations for leaving and the steps that parents can take to prevent this from happening are limited. However, the problem of runaway children will only increase until parents choose to be more attentive and interactive with their children. Here is a few runaway prevention tips:
1. Pay attention to your children, especially when the child is talking to you. Just donít pretend: Kids know the difference!
2. Give your child as much respect as possible as they grow and mature. This means that you will try and understand what they are going through from their perspective.
3. All children hate being lectured to, especially teenagers. But kids will respond to information and direction, especially when they know that their questions will be answered.
4. Donít stereotype or use labels that only confuse real issues that you wish to address.
5. Always be willing to discuss your childís feelings. You should share your feelings with your child as well.
6. Encourage your child to accept a sense of responsibility by giving your child choices, not orders.
7. Reward and praise good behavior. Explain how bad behavior affects others.
8. Avoid asking too many questions Ė especially when you are upset. This only confuses the child and shuts down information.
9. Encourage your child to find their own answers and solutions to problems and questions. Use teamwork to find a mutually agreeable solution.
10. Remember to tell your child that you love them.
National Center For Missing and Exploited ChildrenThe Missing Childrenís Assistance Act of 1984 established a national resource center and clearinghouse dedicated to missing and exploited children issues. Since April, 1984 the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) has worked in partnership with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to carry out a program with the following statutorily mandated functions:
1. Establish a toll-free hotline (1-800-843-5678)
2. Provide technical assistance to parents, law enforcement and other agencies working on missing and exploited children issues.
3. Promote information sharing and provide technical assistance by networking with non-profit organizations, state clearinghouses, and law enforcement agencies.
4. Develop publications that contain practical and timely information.
5. Provide information regarding programs offering free or low-cost transportation services that assist in reuniting children with their families.NCMEC has become a focal point for activities ranging from training to prevent infant abductions in hospitals to providing case management software to law enforcement. One of the first calls that a concerned parent of a missing or abused child should make is to NCMEC, which has logged nearly one million calls since it was established.
Joseph A. Kinney is a pioneering leader, author, and researcher who has received numerous national awards for contributions to forging a safer and more productive world. Joseph is President of Safe Spaces, Inc. (www.safespaces.com).
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