RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Every 40 seconds on average a child goes missing in the United States, according to the FBI, but there are simple steps parents can take to prevent this scenario.
It's one of a parent's worst nightmares, you turn around and your child is just gone. You're out with your kids shopping. You think your two children are right by your side, but suddenly you realize one of them is gone. Think fast, what are you going to do?
“As hard as it is, you want to make sure you try not to panic, because as soon as you panic, you take yourself out of the game,” said patrol officer Michael Akers.
When you start panicking, you don't think as clearly and your details become fuzzy. Remain calm and alert employees at the store. They'll call a Code Adam, the special alert for missing children. Employees will lockdown the building so no one can go in or out. It was started in memory of 6-year-old Adam Walsh who was abducted from a department store in 1981 and murdered.
Officer Akers recommends always taking a picture of your children before you go anywhere. That way you have a photo of them in exactly what they are wearing. He also says to educate your children on what to do if they get separated from you.
"Teach your children to find someone who works at the store and that way they can help find their parents,” said Akers.
If you're going to a crowded area, like an amusement park, write your cell number on your child's arm or put your business card in their pocket, establish a meeting place in case you get separated, and teach them how to ask for help.
"Sometimes a child will wander off and they will see a game somewhere, or they will see a ride somewhere, and they will just simply not follow along with mom and dad who are doing their best to try and pay attention to them,” said Akers.