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Things to Do to Try to Prevent a Kidnaping: Things Concerning the Child
- Personally accompany your child to and from school.
- Consider telling your child of your concerns. This could include an instruction that your child not go with your spouse, even if your spouse says it's okay. Make sure your child knows that you must personally be present before the child can start any visit with your spouse.
- Teach your child how to use the telephone.
- Make sure your child knows your telephone number, including area code.
- Make sure your child knows how to make a collect call or how to reach the operator and ask for help in getting you on the telephone. This might include teaching your child how to make a collect call from another country.
- Have your child practice making these calls, and practice and practice again.
- Teach your child to contact you before going any place.
- Make sure your child knows that if anything unusual happens or that if anyone says you do not love him or her or you are injured or dead that he or she should react by immediately calling you collect. Practice this so your child will know that you are alive and well and waiting for the child to telephone you so that you can come and get him or her.
- As mean and devastating as it sounds and is, many people who kidnap children tell those children that you are dead. Therefore, the child has no need to try to telephone you. Other kidnappers elaborate on the story, telling the children that they and the parent have to move, change names, and hide in order to be safe from the people who killed the other parent. There is no end to the things your child might be told. Therefore, your child must understand that no matter what he or she is told the child must try, and keep trying, to contact you or the police.
- Make sure your child knows his or her own address.
- Make sure your child knows how to telephone the police or fire department for help, even if the call has to be made in another country.
- Inform the school of problems between you and your spouse.
- Tell the school principal; home room teacher; course teachers; recess supervisor; cafeteria supervisor; school nurse; and anyone else at the school who may have your child for activities, such as music or band, sports, play, etc., that you and your spouse are having trouble, that you are concerned about a kidnapping, and that you will be seeking a court order. In the meantime, they are NOT to release your child to anyone else but you, personally.
- Provide the people with a recent color photograph of your spouse that has been taped to a piece of paper on which you have written DO NOT, NOT, RELEASE [child's name] TO THIS PERSON!
- If you are not going to personally accompany your child to and from school, also tell the school bus driver not to release your child if you are not present at the bus stop.
- If for some reason you are not there to pick up your child and another person arrives, even with a supposed note from you, the teacher, etc., must confirm the authenticity of the note by telephoning you. Even consider having a code word to identify you in order to avoid your spouse having an accomplice at the telephone ready with an answer.
- If your child walks to and from school, with or without school friends, you must consider training him or her to run if anyone approaches, even if it is your spouse.
- Collect court documents.
- a. Determine if there is any court action involving custody, care or control, physical possession, or visitation with your child that is pending or has been completed. If yes, where?
- b. Even if it is your own case, obtain two certified copies and two exemplified copies of the docket and all of the pleadings. If you have to file a claim regarding your child in another state, one set of either the certified or exemplified copies probably will have to be provided to your local attorney or filed in that court.
- Determine your child's state residence.
- a. Has the child lived in your state for six months or for one year? If not, where has the child lived for the last six months or for the last year?
- b. If the child has not lived in your state or jurisdiction for the necessary time period, is this an emergency that would permit your state to exercise its jurisdiction in order to protect the child?
- Call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678); or write to NCMEC at 2101 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 550, Arlington, Virginia 22201-3052 and request a copy of its publication on Family Abduction: How to Prevent an Abduction and What to Do If Your Child Is Abducted. (1)
- Call or write the Office of Citizens Consular Services, U.S. Department of State, Room 4817, Washington, D.C. 20520; Telephone: (202) 736-7000 and request a copy of its booklet entitled International Parental Child Abduction.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has several publications that you may request. For example, Family Abduction: How to Prevent an Abduction and What to Do If Your Child Is Abducted, Just in case . . . Parental guidelines in case your child might someday be missing, Just in case . . . Parental guidelines in case you are considering family separation, and Just in case . . . Guidelines on using the Federal Parent Locator Service in cases of parental kidnapping and child custody.