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In Nixa last month, an unidentified man tried to abduct a young girl who was getting off of her school bus. Child abductors are becoming more and more savvy in their methods to lure children. KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann talked with a spokesperson of an Ozarks organization working with the families of abducted children, and has this report.
Parenting comes with many responsibilities. Now more than ever, keeping children safe from predators is one of them.
Brent Weaver is a spokesperson for the Morgan Nick Foundation, an organization that helps prevent child abductions. Weaver says many normal things that parents try to do to make a child happy or safe can actually alert a predator to their whereabouts; like hanging curtains with childrens’ prints, or even using reflective child-safety stickers in their windows.
"Well, obviously you can't keep a child in a bubble...so to speak.Many fire departments used to give out window stickers alerting that a child was inside. In some instances predators have found out that there is a child living in that room, and that is how they're getting inside the houses and taking these children. A predator could be driving down the road and target the house for later by seeing that reflective sticker." said Weaver.
Weaver says that most fire departments are no longer using window stickers and that some instead suggest reflective strips for the child’s interior doorway.
Weaver suggests parents keep updated pictures and records to better help law enforcement in the event that their child would ever end up missing. Recent pictures are a vital tool used to relocate children. Experts recommend that pictures are updated every six months for small children since their features change so dramatically, and once a year for teenage children. Weaver also suggests that fingerprinting kits are good to have, but that DNA is even better.
"There is one thing we do that's a little peculiar...we teach children it's okay to spit. If they're being abducted it's okay to spit on their abductor, spit on the ground, or spit inside the vehicle. For one reason, saliva has a particular scent to it that a tracking dog can pick up. Second reason is that it is DNA. DNA is like fingerprinting, except it is 100% accurate." says Weaver.
Weaver suggests that parents need to be aware of their childrens’ daily activities as well as their on-line and cell phone habits. Some of the basic safeguards include keeping the computer in a main room of the house, and using parental controls that monitor and limit a child’s access to certain internet sites. He also suggests that parents contact their local cell phone or internet providers to find out more about having duplicate messages of their childrens’ computer activities sent to their cell phones or email.
The Morgan Nick Foundation was founded in 1996 after a 6-year-old girl by the same name was abducted from a ball field in Alma, Arkansas. 14 years later, she is still missing. For KSMU News, I’m Theresa Bettmann.
***According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, more children are actually abducted by people they know than by strangers. You can click on either link for more information:
The Morgan Nick Foundation at: www.morgannick.com (877) 543-4673
or the National Centers for Missing and Exploited children at: