When Kids Get Lost
It's every parent's nightmare: You turn away for a second in a crowded mall, and suddenly your child is nowhere in sight. To make sure he knows what to do if you become separated, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) recommends the following before you head out to a crowded place.
AGES 3 TO 4
Tell your child that if he doesn't see you he should sit right down on the ground and that you'll come get him. Stress that he should never leave the area to go look for you, but he can call out "Mommy" or "Daddy," which will let people know he's lost.
AGES 5 TO 6
She should stay in one spot and keep an eye out for a "safe adult" -- a woman with a child; a clerk in a uniform or behind a checkout counter; or a security guard or policeman. Your child should tell this adult that she's lost, and give her full name.
AGES 7 AND UP
He should memorize the phone number of a close friend or relative so that he can ask a "safe adult" to call her for help.
WHAT PARENTS SHOULD DO
- Always carry a current photo of your child; it may help staff members locate her faster.
- Find out if the stores you frequent have a Code Adam policy, which means that the store secures and monitors every exit once a child is lost. If they don't have one, urge them to set one up with the NCMEC.
- Know exactly what your child is wearing before you leave the house.
- If you do get separated, retrace your steps to where you were last with your child. If you don't see her, contact the security office. If she's not found within ten minutes, call the police.