Thursday, March 12, 2015

Child Abduction

According to the Child Abduction Task Force, there are more than 200,000 child abductions each year nation-wide; a scarier statistic is that of that total, an estimated 100 of those children are murdered each year.  The statistics through the Department of Justice state that "an estimated 1,923 cases of family abduction and 49 cases of stranger abduction occur annually in California." Even though stranger abduction is prevalent in our society today, majority of child abductions happen at the hands of a family member.

Child Abduction

In 1996, The Amber Alert System was created to assist the police department and United States Department of Justice to recover these missing children. As of January 2014, approximately 679 children have been safely recovered as a result of the Amber Alert System. There are many resources available that can assist in locating, and sometimes rehabilitating, these missing and/or abducted children, including the Missing Children Investigative Agency (MCIA). The mission of MCIA is "The safety, protection, and return of missing children." There are many investigators, agents, and intelligence analysts in numerous cities nationwide and internationally who help actively pursue and locate these missing children. In addition to these investigators, there are many non-investigative volunteers that help the community stay aware and alert of missing children. These volunteers help with a variety of tasks including: media relations, developing outreach programs, public speaking, clerical work, including grant writing, fundraising, and case management.

If you have any children of your own, you can only imagine how devastating it could be to realize that someone, maybe even a familiar figure such as your ex-spouse, has taken your child away from you. Many parents feel sadness, fear, guilt, anxiety, depression, and anger revolving around their missing child. Parents have expressed their emotions as, "we are living, breathing human beings enduring an unbelievable hell on Earth." For these parents, it is important to keep communication open at all times so they feel heard and understood. It is also important that they have a strong support system to assist them in their emotional roller coaster.

There are a few factors to take into consideration when establishing an abduction report. First and foremost, a timeline of events needs to be established prior to the abduction.   To help identify the abductor, investigators need to outline a list of known persons that the child knows. Other considerations include age, culture, abduction method, length of time missing, etc. As these factors are discovered, investigators can begin canvasing the area to see if anyone has seen any suspicious activity or have any knowledge pertaining to the child's whereabouts.

Unfortunately, there are a high percentage of girls that are abducted than boys, and majority of those girls are victimized. This victimization includes child abuse, including neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse. Child abduction envelops all of these categories, although not every child who is abducted will experience those types of threats. Child abuse is the physical, sexual, or emotional maltreatment of a child. Maltreatment of a child includes any act(s) of commission or omission of a parent or guardian that results in harm or potential threat of harm to a child. Although children may exaggerate stories at times, we should always take heed when a child says that they were inappropriately touched by someone, whether or not it was another family member or stranger.

Of course as we have learned ourselves growing up, the best way to maintain our safety growing up is to maintain good parental vision of the child at all times. By helping our children build the habit of talking to us about their problems, it reinforces their safety and keeps communication open. It's also important to teach them not to give out personal information and not to talk to strangers if they are on their own. Teaching children to use the buddy system also helps as abductors are less likely to snatch children who are in pairs or groups instead of on their own. By roleplaying different scenarios with your child on how to avoid and turn away from these 'strangers', it teaches them a set of basic morals to live by to keep them safe and stay out of harm's way. Another method to keep them safe is to create a secret code word that only you, your child, and a few select individuals know. As parents, it is a good idea to keep a file that includes photographs of you, and all family members (kept current and updated, especially whenever there's an appearance change); a list of other parents addresses, phone numbers, email, vehicle make and model (including color, vin, license plate, stickers, dents and any other unusual features or distinguishing characteristics)

To get more information on how you can volunteer or assist in locating missing children, you can visit, or contact MCIA hotline at (818) 663-3000. 

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