How to Respond When Your Kids Wander Away Or Worse- Staying Safe from Child Abduction

How to Respond When Children Wander Away (Or Worse)- Staying Safe from Child Abduction

Did you enjoy this post? Share the Love!

Photo by Maksym Kaharlytskyi on Unsplash

This post may contain advertisements and/or links for products and services that I value. I offer recommendations to products and/or services that I find helpful in my own life as a mom. I may receive a commission based on viewer purchases or interactions with these ads. You will NOT be charged any extra money. All prices will stay the same for you whether your purchase items/services through links found on this site or not! 

Updated: 2/13/2019


Safety Trivia: During Christmas time, it is common to decorate with what poisonous plant? (See answer at bottom of page)

Every parent has stories about losing their kids for a moment or two in a store, at a gas station, at Disneyland, or at a park.

Those moments are nerve wracking for mother and child.

We know that children are usually just fine, but with child trafficking and other abuse out there, no parent can take any chances. 

Please comment below: Have you ever been separated from your child in public? What did you do? 

Let’s discuss this topic in the following sections:

  1. How to Be Proactive In Prevention
  2. What To Do In the Moment
  3. Skills for Your Child
  4. Worse Case Scenario

woman in white blouse and blue denim jeans helping a baby crawl on green grass

Photo by Jordan Rowland on Unsplash

1) How to Be Proactive In Prevention

Many, many bad situations can be avoided with a little preparation on the parents’ part. Try these tips to keep your family safe:

  • Teach your children a “Magic Safety Word” that they respond to automatically. Practice and practice your word until the children know to run to mom any time they hear this word. You can use fun games, like Simon Says or Red Light, Green Light to practice running to mom when you hear the word. My husband’s family uses a whistle- that works great too.
  • Teach your children their full name, phone number, and address. If they are too young, you can write it on their arm, on the inside of a jacket or shirt, on backpack tags, or on the bottom of  their shoes.
  • Get your child safety tools such as a GPS watch. 
  • Teach children to stay next to you, and teach them why.
  • Have the stranger-danger talk often. In addition to teaching children to avoid strangers, teach them about “community helpers” such as policemen or store employees who can help the child if they are ever lost.

man and woman holding baby's hand while walking on road

  • Be aware of common abduction techniques.
    • Abductors try to get their victims in the car as quickly as possible for a fast getaway.
    • Not all abductors are men. Women also help in child trafficking because they draw less suspicion than men do.
    • Abductors try to change the child’s physical appearance quickly. Some abductors carry items like a shirt or a wig to put on the child so that they do not match the physical description that people are searching for.
  • If you are going to a particularly crowded place such as an amusement park, try these tips:
    • Arrange a meeting place just in case someone gets separated from the group. If you lose each other, immediately go to the meeting place and look there first.
    • Take a picture of each child at the beginning of the day so that you know exactly what their clothing looks like in case of an incident. Use some kind of bright or unique piece of clothing that is easily recognizable.
    • Use the “buddy system”– assign each child a partner. Everyone is in charge of keeping an eye on their partner. This keeps everyone on their toes and decreases the chances of getting separated.
    • Use a sharpie to write your name and phone number on the child’s arm.


GPS Watch

Mini GPS Tracker

Backpack Labels

The Game Plan Game: Everyone Needs A Game Plan for Safety, Life Skills and Feelings Management


2) What To Do In the Moment

Despite our best efforts, children sometimes get lost in crowded places. They get distracted, they wander… it happens.

But it is terrifying because there are too many bad people in the world that would take advantage of a lost and unprotected child.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Stay calm. Getting worked up overstimulates your senses and makes you less effective. For your child’s sake, keep it together.
  2. Don’t hesitate! Act fast. Most abductions are quick and silent, so don’t worry about embarrassment. Just get to work.
  3. Use specific details to get other people looking for your child as well.
  4. Be loud. Shout the child’s name, or even better- call out a description of the child to the people around you. Abductors want to blend in and go unnoticed. If a large group of people are aware of a missing child’s physical appearance, it is difficult for an abductor to sneak away with the child.
  5. Use the resources around you. Watch for a main office, a help desk, employees, policemen, or just ask the strangers around you. They can all help.
  6. If possible, keep a family member at the location where you lost the child. Most children don’t go far.

timelapse photo of people passing the street

Photo by mauro mora on Unsplash

3) Skills For Your Child To Know

In these scary situations, the child is likely scared and confused as well. Giving the child tools beforehand can help them make smart decisions.

  • Never get in anyone’s car or leave the store or location where you lost mom.
  • Never put on any different clothes than what you were wearing when you lost mom.
  • Know who the “community helpers” are. Know what clothes they wear so that you can find one to help you. Another common technique is to teach children to ask a woman with children with her, hoping that another mom will have sympathy and help the child.
  • Know your parents’ phone number, your full name, your address, etc. so that the helpers can contact mom.
  • If there is a family meeting place, teach the child to go there first. If there is no meeting place, the child should stay where he lost you.
  • Teach the child mom’s full name. People pick their own name out of background noise more than other sounds. I am more likely to hear “Becca Sheffield” over the hum of a crowd than “mommy”.

Is this information helpful? Please comment and like!

person standing on misty ground

Photo by Jakub Kriz on Unsplash

More Great Reads: 

AMAZING Miracle of Moms- Let’s All Be That Mom Every Day

The Most Important Word in the English Language (For Parents)- Remember

When Life Is On A Parent’s Side- Taking Advantage of Natural Consequences


4) Worse Case Scenario

There is a story of a boy named Jake who was ALMOST abducted in a crowded beach.

His family was enjoying a nice day, visiting vendors and booths. Jake was right next to Mommy. She let go of his hand for a second, and he was gone that fast. 

Jake’s mom called for him.

A nearby army cadet heard Jake’s mom shouting, and offered to help. He and his army buddies started shouting to the crowd, “We are looking for a boy, He is 4-years old, blonde and in a red T shirt. Have you seen him?”

Jake’s mom attributes his safety to that specific phrase.

Turns out, Jake was with a man who promised to show Jake a “real rocket ship” if Jake came with him. 

When so many in the crowd started looking for the boy in such specific detail, the abductor knew he could not get Jake away without being spotted, so he just left.

Jake was found soon after.

(Read the full story here)

woman in white dress shirt holding her daughter in tutu dress beside of asphalt road during daytime

Photo by Sai De Silva on Unsplash

Please comment below: Have you ever been separated from your child in public? What did you do? 

This story makes me so scared for Jake, so angry at that man, so relieved that it all turned out ok, and so determined never to let anything happen to my own children. 

Keep your sweet little ones safe, and help the other moms around you.

There is bad in this world, but it’s nothing compared to all the good. Thank you for being the kind of moms who will help my child if she’s ever lost. And I’ll do the same for you. 


Mrs. S


Share this post with all parents! Let’s keep our kids safe!

Please comment and “like” if you enjoyed this post!

Subscribe to my email list for weekly updates in the world of parenting! Nobody needs to do this alone- parenting is just too hard for that. Join a wonderful community and have access to exclusive resources!

Parent Guide to Misbehavior Subscribe Picture

Subscribe today to receive your FREE Guide. 

Safety Trivia Answer: Mistletoe

Did you enjoy this post? Share the Love!