“The Mentalist” Star Tim Kang Wants to Prevent Child Abduction
CHILDREN AT GREATEST RISK WHEN GOING TO AND FROM SCHOOL OR SCHOOL-RELATED ACTIVITIES
ALEXANDRIA, Va., Sept. 6, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — As parents prepare for the start of a new school year, teaching children how to be safe needs to be at the top of their list of things to do. An Analysis in 2010 by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) of more than 4,000 attempted abductions during the previous five years found children are at risk when going to and from school or school related activities. NCMEC has partnered with popular actor Tim Kang, of the hit CBS show The Mentalist, to teach parents what they need to teach their children to keep them safe this school year.
“As a dad of a one year old daughter I am more aware than ever before of the dangers that children face. I understand how parents want to do anything possible to protect their children and keep them safe. Children need to know that it is ok to say ‘No’ and that if approached they need to yell, kick or runaway,” said actor Tim Kang. “Parents need to understand that spending a few minutes teaching their children about safety could literally mean the difference between life and death. They also need to know about the great resources that are available from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. For example the Know the Rules series of safety tips is a great tool for parents to review with their children.”
“We know that teaching children about safety works. A common factor with children who escaped their would-be abductors was that the child did something proactive instead of being passive or polite: 31% yelled, kicked, pulled away or attracted attention and 53% of the children walked or ran away,” said Ernie Allen, President & CEO of NCMEC. “We are honored to be working with Tim Kang. As a parent, he is an ideal spokesperson to help us reach other parents to educate them about what they can do to keep their children safe.”
An estimated 800,000 children are reported missing every year. That is 2,000 children every day or one child every 40 seconds. NCMEC analyzed more than 4,200 attempted abductions for the five year period from February 2005 and March 2010 and found that:
- 38% of attempted abductions occur while a child is walking alone to or from school, riding the school bus or riding a bicycle;
- 37% of attempted abductions occur between the hours of 2:00 P.M. through 7:00 P.M. on a weekday;
- 43% of attempted abductions involve children between the ages of 10 and 14;
- 72% of attempted abduction victims are female;
- 68% of attempted abductions involve the suspect driving a vehicle.
The five most common lures included offering a child a ride, offering the child candy or sweets, showing the child an animal or asking for help finding an animal, offering the child money and asking the child for directions.
Parents also need to understand that most of those who abduct children are not “strangers.” The phrase “stranger danger” is pervasive in our culture. However, teaching children to only be afraid of strangers is the wrong message. Children don’t get it. Children view a “stranger” as someone who is “ugly” or “mean”. If someone spends time talking to a child or is even just around a child they think they “know” the person and don’t view them as a stranger. Research shows that of the 58,000 non-family abductions each year 63% involved a friend, long-term acquaintance, neighbor, caretaker, baby sitter or person of authority and only 37% involved a stranger. The number of pure strangers is not insignificant but it remains far smaller than other offenders who have easy and legitimate access to children.
As children return to school, parents should take time to review the below ten Back-to School Safety Tips adapted from the NCMEC Know the Rules Child Safety series.
Ten Important Back-to-School Safety Tips
- Teach your children to always TAKE A FRIEND with them when walking or biking, and stay with a group while standing at the bus stop. Make sure they know which bus to ride.
- Walk the route to and from school with your children pointing out landmarks and safe places to go if they’re being followed or need help. Teach your children they should NEVER TAKE SHORTCUTS and always stay in well-lit areas.
- It is not safe for young children to walk to and from school, even in a group. Parents should always provide supervision for young children to help ensure their safe arrival to and from school. If your children wait for a bus, wait with them or make arrangements for supervision at the bus stop.
- Teach your children that if anyone bothers them, makes them feel scared or uncomfortable to trust their feelings and immediately get away from that person. Teach them it is ok not to be polite and IT IS OK TO SAY NO.
- Teach your children if anyone tries to take them somewhere they should RESIST by kicking and screaming, try to run away and DRAW ATTENTION by kicking and screaming “This person is trying to take me away” or “This person is not my father/mother.”
- Teach your children NOT TO ACCEPT A RIDE from anyone unless you have said it is ok in that instance. If anyone follows them in a vehicle they should turn around, go in the other direction, and run to a trusted adult who may help them.
- Teach your children that grownups should NOT ASK CHILDREN FOR DIRECTIONS, they should ask other adults.
- Teach your children to NEVER ACCEPT MONEY OR GIFTS from anyone unless you have told them it is ok to accept in each instance.
- Make sure the school has current and accurate emergency contact information is on file for your children and confirm names of those authorized.
- Always know where your children will be. Teach your children to always CHECK FIRST before changing their plans before or after school. Teach your children to never leave school, with anyone unless they CHECK FIRST with you or another trusted adult, even if someone tells them it is an emergency.
About the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Since it was established by Congress in 1984, the organization has operated the toll-free 24-hour national missing children’s hotline which has handled more than 3,421,390 calls. It has assisted law enforcement in the recovery of more than 166,800 children. The organization’s CyberTipline has handled more than 1,179,460 reports of child sexual exploitation and its Child Victim Identification Program has reviewed and analyzed more than 54,253,610 pornography images and videos. The organization works in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Justice’s office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. To learn more about NCMEC, call its toll-free, 24-hour hotline at 1-800-THE-LOST or visit its web site at www.missingkids.com.
About Tim Kang
Tim Kang can currently be seen on the hit CBS drama The Mentalist as straight-arrow investigator “Kimball Cho,” a fan favorite on the show. The Mentalist won a 2009 People’s Choice Award for “Favorite New TV Drama,” and was nominated for a 2009 Television Critics Association Award for “Outstanding New Program of the Year.” Other appearances on popular TV shows include recurring roles in CBS’s The Unit and NBC’s Third Watch and guest starring on The Office, The Ghost Whisperer, The Sopranos, Monk, Chappelle’s Show, Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Law & Order: Trial By Jury. Tim was also seen in the films Rambo, The Forgotten, Two Weeks Notice and as the star of Mister Green.
SOURCE National Center for Missing & Exploited Children