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Preventing Child Abduction

02/28/2009 ● By Super Admin

Ask almost any mom, and she’ll remember a time when her son or daughter went missing – if only for a moment. She’ll likely describe the aching panic in the pit of her stomach at the thought her child might have been kidnapped. But for parents who have actually experienced the reality, they say the nightmare is indescribable.While child abduction cases are thankfully rare in our community, local law enforcement leaders say it’s important for parents and children, from toddlers to teenagers, to stay educated, prepared and alert. New Tools and Old Beliefs Over the past decade, the child safety playing field has changed considerably. Advancements in technology have led to the AMBER Alert notification system and an international database for missing children. Yet, we’ve also witnessed the growing popularity of a dangerous new tool for child predators – the Internet.Unfortunately, old myths about kidnap prevention remain, such as teaching “stranger danger,” and the need to wait 24 hours before reporting a missing child – two mistakes that could be deadly.Detective Sergeant Dennis Walsh with the Placer County Sheriff’s Department says that statistically, the vast majority of child abductions are perpetrated by someone familiar to the child or the family. That’s why national experts say the “stranger danger” message gives children a false sense of security around familiar faces, while at the same time promotes a fear of strangers whom actually could be rescuers. Kidnap Prevention TechniquesThe key to reducing the risk of child abductions, say authorities, is a combined effort on behalf of parents, children, law enforcement and the community, focused in three areas – education, awareness and preparation. They offer the following tips:For Parents of Younger Children:Make sure your child knows their address, full phone number and parents’ full names.Don’t put your child’s name on the outside of clothing, backpacks or lunch boxes. Warn children about approaching a vehicle or giving out personal information, such as name, address or school, to strangers. Remind children that adults should ask other adults, not children, for things like directions, or help finding a lost pet. Role play other scenarios with examples of common enticements such as candy or ice cream.Watch for teachable moments where you can practice “what if” scenarios and point out “strange” adults (security officers, other parents) your child might safely approach if lost.Have your child’s picture taken yearly and keep a photo and their fingerprints with you at all times. Consider purchasing a GPS-enabled wristwatch or bracelet, or child-locating device.Never leave children unattended in a vehicle. Have your child practice the Buddy System, even in public restrooms. Establish a family code word for emergencies.Screen babysitters and caregivers carefully. Be aware of others who may live or work at the same facility.Teach your child that if a stranger tries to grab him, he should yell loudly for “HELP!” or “I DON’T KNOW YOU!” And then run.Without a doubt, one of the best tools for prevention is community involvement, says El Dorado County Sheriff Sergeant Bryan Golmitz. He says over the last year his office received multiple calls reporting strangers approaching young children, and they thoroughly investigated every one. “I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to identify and report suspicious circumstances immediately to law enforcement,” Golmitz says. “We can’t help if we don’t know about it.”

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Young at Art

01/31/2009 ● By Super Admin

As a “creative” kid, I knew firsthand how stressful and out of place that label could be. I can’t tell you how many beautiful spring Saturdays my father would usher me out to the local park so I could chew my mitt in the outfield and watch baseballs fly over my head. I don’t blame my dad for giving it the old college try – he was only trying to share with me the activities he enjoyed as a child. The problem was...I didn’t share his enthusiasm for sports. I wasn’t particularly lazy or protesting the grass-stained polyester uniforms per se, but I had this feeling my time could be spent in a more productive, enlightening manner. Finally, they did see my artistic “potential” through my love of drawing and quickly invested in a rather handsome art kit and drafting table. The mitt and polyester are now a faded memory.Unfortunately, many artistically inclined children find few resources readily available to them at school or at afternoon programs, with athletics taking front and center in funding and participation. Parents tuned in to their child’s creative needs may need to get “creative” themselves, seeking out the right resources and activities. Here are a few ideas to get your little Michelangelo or Martha Graham on the right track....Get Outdoors Being an artistic child doesn’t mean afternoons holed up inside the house during the summer. Take activities outside and practice art together in the open air. Try sidewalk chalk for the younger geniuses and let your older ones try their hand at landscape sketching. “Dramatic” ones might find pleasure putting on small theatre productions for the family (hint: a garage and a few bed sheets make a great proscenium and curtains for show time). Check out the local Parks and Recreation department for special events or classes for kids....For more local kids' Art Programs be sure to pick up this month's copy of FoothillStyle. Check out the Distribution tab on this Web site for some of our newsstand locations. Or, to order a copy of this issue, please email, or call 916-988-9888.

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