Police urge vigilance to keep kids safe during holidays, travel

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Parents, be careful not to let their guard down or become distracted while traveling or attending public functions with your children during the 2012 holiday season. The Oregon State Police Missing Children Clearinghouse urges parents to consider what they should be telling their children to keep them safe while shopping and traveling this holiday season.

“Talk with children about safety before heading out to a busy shopping mall or boarding a plane, train, or bus this holiday season. Since children may easily become separated from their parents or others they are with, they can easily become confused and scared. Have a plan and talk about it beforehand so children know what to do,” said Julie Willard, OSP Missing Children/Persons Program Manager.

Many adults and children don’t know what to do if they lose each other in a public place or are faced with other unsafe situations. That’s why these tips on how to remain safe and avoid panic and potential dangers may be useful:

  • Keep children with you at all times while shopping.
  • Accompany and supervise children in public facilities, including restrooms.
  • Have a plan in case you become separated, including a pre-designated spot to meet.
  • Teach children to look for people who can help, such as a uniformed security officer, salesperson or mother with children.
  • Remind children to remain in the area where they become separated.
  • Never dress children in clothing that displays their first or last names, prompting unwelcome attention from people looking for an opportunity to start a conversation with your child.
  • Don’t leave children in toy stores or public facilities expecting supervision from store personnel.
  • Don’t go shopping or attend a public event with a child if you feel you’re going to be distracted. Make other arrangements for child care ahead of time.
  • Don’t allow younger children to shop on their own to purchase surprise gifts for friends or family members.
  • Never drop off older children at a mall or public place without agreeing on a clear plan for picking them up, including: where, what time, and what to do in case of a change in plans.
  • If your child is flying or riding a train or bus alone this holiday season, NCMEC urges parents to remember the following travel safety tips:
  • When you make reservations for your child, specify that the child will be traveling alone.
  • Whenever possible, book a non-stop flight or direct route. Avoid booking the last flight of the day.
  • Plan to visit the airport, train or bus terminal prior to departure. Let your child know what to expect, so the experience will not be so intimidating.
  • In case of delay or cancellation, remain at the station or gate until the train, plane or bus departs.
  • Make sure children travel with proper identification and parents or guardian contact information.
  • Always have a backup plan for the person or people meeting the plane at the destination, in case they are delayed.
  • Encourage children not to become too friendly with other passengers or to reveal any personal information.

Additional safety tips can be found at www.missingkids.com.

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