The Norman Transcript

May 27, 2014

FBI offers advice on how to keep children safe this summer

Transcript Staff
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Oklahoma City Division is sharing tips on how to keep children safe and information about how the FBI investigates instances of child abduction and exploitation.

Through the Child Exploitation Task Force, the FBI works to decrease the vulnerability of children to sexual exploitation, provide a rapid investigative response to crimes against children, and enhance the capabilities of state and local law enforcement agencies.

An unfortunate reality is that every year, thousands of children go missing. In these cases, the FBI works to assist in the investigation and speedy recovery of the abducted child.

In cases of child exploitation, an individual often targets a child for the purpose of abuse or violence. This targeting can be done in person by an acquaintance or a stranger, or it can be done online through social websites and chat rooms.

To help in child abduction recoveries, the FBI has developed the Child ID app, which provides an effective way for parents and guardians to keep their child’s pictures and information on hand, in case he or she goes missing. The app also includes safety tips for parents to help keep their kids out of harm’s way.

The app is free and in the event a child goes missing, parents and guardians can quickly email photos and information to authorities. No information about you or your child will be collected or stored by the FBI.

To download the Child ID app, go to iTunes App Store on your iPhone or Play Store on your Android phone.

Many parents are planning for their children’s summer activities. The following safety tips will help ensure children are being cared for properly.

· Know child care providers. Choose babysitters, nannies and tutors with care. Obtain references from family, friends and neighbors. Many states now have registries for public access to check criminal history or sex-offender status. Observe the interaction with your children, and ask your children how they feel about your child care provider. Do background screening and reference checks on everyone who works in your home. Make sure you know as much about them as they do about you and your family. For access to sex-offender registries, visit nsopw.gov.

· Check out camps and summer programs before enrolling your children. Ask if a background screening check is completed on the individuals working with the children. Make sure there will be adult supervision of your children at all times, and make sure you are made aware of all activities and field trips offered by the camp or program.

· Observe how adults work with your children. Be involved in your children’s activities, and if you are concerned about anyone’s behavior, discuss your concerns with the sponsoring organization. Notice when anyone shows one or all of your children an inordinate amount of attention or tries to give them gifts. Take the time to talk to your children about the person. Tell your children to never accept money or gifts from anyone, unless you have told them it is OK.

· Know where your children are and who they are with. Make sure an adult whom you have met and know the background of is supervising children any time they are outside or away from home. Review rules with your children about whose homes they may visit and discuss boundaries.

· Talk to your children about safety and encourage them to tell you or another trusted adult if anyone or anything makes them feel sad, scared or confused. Teach them that it is OK to tell you what happened and they will not be “tattletales” for telling.

· Remember to stay alert, informed and focused about personal-security issues. Being available and taking time to know and listen to your children helps build feelings of safety and security. Be sure your child knows what to do in case of an emergency and how to reach you by phone. Children should have a trusted adult, whom you know, to call if they are scared or there is an emergency.

· The FBI has developed tips for employers who are hiring for summertime positions that have interaction with children. These tips, along with the FBI’s Parent’s Guide to Internet Safety, can be found by visiting the FBI’s website, fbi.gov/summersafety.

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