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2003 News from Mecklenburg County

February 14, 2003

Community Child Fatality Prevention and Protection Team Offers Tips to Protect Kids Against Abductions

Charlotte, NC - Responding to the recent spate of attempted child abductions in the community, the Mecklenburg County Child Fatality Prevention and Protection Team is reminding parents and caregivers of ways to protect children.
 
The Team is mandated by the State of North Carolina to review all childhood deaths in Mecklenburg County.  The Team is also charged with issuing calls to the community to keep children safe and prevent any harm to children from threats or crimes.

So far this year, no children have been abducted by strangers in Mecklenburg County.  But without proper action by neighbors, caregivers, parents, and children, a tragedy may occur. 

Experts say steps can be taken to prevent such a tragedy. Parents, caregivers and other concerned adults should make sure children know the following:
Never respond to a strange adult who approaches you, especially if there are no other adults around.
Never approach a car with a strange adult inside.
Respond with a loud "No!" if a strange adult tries to get you to go with them. 
Do not agree to help a strange adult do anything, i.e., search for a puppy, find a lost item, look for an address, etc.
Scream, yell and run if a strange adult approaches or tries to touch you.
Always run in the direction where you will find more people.
If a strange adult grabs you and tries to force you to go with them, yell: "This is not my father/mother!"
If someone says "Don't yell," then yell; and if someone says "Don't tell," then tell.
Run to the nearest house, business or another adult and tell them what happened.

The most important thing that parents and caregivers can do is to constantly supervise their children, especially in public and when they are outside playing. Don't allow younger children to be alone for any period of time outdoors, and always keep doors locked while inside the home. Make sure children are aware of their surroundings and can identify people who will keep them safe.

"Just like any other safety training for children, start giving them this information early and often," says Dr. Elizabeth Peterson-Vita, clinical director and psychologist with Mecklenburg County Area Mental Health.  "It is also important that parents always know who their children's friends are and where they are at all times."

For more information on how to protect children and more resources, go to the Protecting Kids…Everybody's Job Web site at www.protectingkids.org.



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