Keeping kids from being abducted

The hearts of parents and families across the country certainly have gone out to Alisa Maier, who is home safe and sound, and her family.

The child abduction in small-town Louisiana, Missouri has been an eye-opener for many of us.

It shows what can happen in your own front yard, regardless of your community's population size.

For this KHQA Safe Family Report, Jarod Wells sat down with a Quincy police officer for some advice on what you can do to keep your kids safe.

Missouri Highway Patrol Lt. Bob Wolf said, "Obviously you have to be concerned for your children at all times."

Concerned and prepared. The most important thing to keep your child from being abducted is communication. Talk to your kids about their day and listen carefully to see if something doesn't sound right. Tell your children who is okay and who is not okay to talk to.

QPD School Resource Officer William Calkins said, "As always, kids should not talk to adults that they don't know. If anyone asks to give them something or to take them somewhere by car or by walking, they should always run away and say 'you're not my mommy' or 'you're not my daddy' as loud as they can so that other people can hear."

For small children, screaming as loud as they can and running away as fast as they can is best. For older children, you should have a plan of action.

Calkins said, "Which means if they've encountered someone that's dangerous, they should be able to run away or call for help or ask for help."

You also can help your kids be good witnesses, and teach them to be able to give good descriptions of people and vehicles.

Calkins said, "They can play car games when they're in their own vehicles and they can say, 'well, that's an SUV' and they can say, 'well, what's that big car, well, that's a truck."

For parents, stay alert. Remember what your children are wearing. Keep a recent school picture with you. And establish a no-secret policy.

Calkins said, "When it comes to strangers and people they don't know, there can't be secrets. Never make it fun or cool to keep secrets. Often times people who do bad things will use secrets to keep kids from telling their parents."

If the child feels capable of fighting back, Officer Calkins says stomping on a foot or kicking isn't a bad idea. But the quicker a child starts running away from the danger, the better.

Officer Williams Calkins recommends ALL parents go to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for more safety reminders.

Many times it may be difficult to talk to your kids about child abductions and other important issues.

It may be even harder to actually get your point across.

We talked with a clinical psychologist to find out the best way to do that.

Frank Froman says the thing parents need to realize is that no matter what you are talking to your kids about, it is not a one time thing.

You need to talk to your kids numerous times to make sure they get your point.

You also need to show your kids what you are teaching them.

"Typically you don't just tell the kid, because they won't remember it when they're in that situation, they actually have to role play. So you actually have to wind up having to have the kid walk down a little street and have somebody drive by in a car and say 'hey kid, come here.' At that point the kid gets a real clear sense of what he should and should not do," Froman said.

Froman also says many times predators may dress up in uniforms to try and attract children.

He says it is best to tell your kids when they are approached by someone they don't know, find an adult that they do know.