Missing Children &
Child Abduction Prevention Information

It is estimated that a child runs away, is missing or is abducted in the United States every 40 seconds! 

imageThere are over 32,000 children attending schools in the Orange Unified School District

Preventing a “Child Abduction” is an everyday issue for parents, school staff members, local law enforcement and community members.  There have been several tragic child abductions throughout our nation in the past few months.  One of the most recent adductions resulted from a stranger asking a child for information to help find a missing pet, such as a dog or cat.  Once the child gets close, the stranger grabs the child and commits the abduction.  Everyone from the Board of Education to our school site staff members are concerned about preventing child abduction.  The following information is being provided to you as strategies you may wish to put in place in your own household.  The following strategies are from numerous web sites on the “Internet” and are being submitted to you for your consideration.  Please review the following information and discuss the strategies with your children.

There are four classifications of “MISSING CHILDREN”.   They are as follows:

  • Parent Abductions The child is taken by a parent or a legal guardian. These types of abductions represent the highest number of abducted children.
  • Stranger/Non-Parental Abductions The child is taken by a stranger or someone other than the parent or guardian. There are relatively few of these kinds of abductions, but they are the most dangerous types of abductions.
  • Runaways Children who leave home willingly. Many of these children (usually older children) are running from abusive homes or personal problems and end up living on the streets. Runaways represent about 75% of all missing children.
  • Throwaways These children have been kicked out of their parent’s homes. They are not allowed to return home after running away or abandoned.

Younger Children and Elementary Students

  • Younger children and elementary students should not be left home alone. If they are left home alone, they should never say that they are home alone, never answer the door, and never invite anyone into the home.
  • They should not go into other people’s houses without permission and letting someone in charge know where they are. 
  • They should never get into a car without permission. They should know to move away from any car that pulls up beside them, if they do not know the driver.  They should not take candy or other gifts from strangers or anyone else without asking a parent first.
  • They should never play in deserted buildings or isolated areas.
  • They should practice screaming and know to scatter books and belongings,
  • They should be taught that it is all right to say  “NO” to any adult who wants them to do something you have taught them is wrong.
  • They should know that no one has the right to touch any private part of their body and that they should know to immediately tell you and school authorities or a police officer about anyone who exposes private parts or tries to touch them.
  • They should tell you if someone has asked them to keep a secret from you.
  • If lost or separated from you in a store or mall, they should know to go to the nearest cashier.

Older Children and Teenagers


  • You should require older children and teenagers to tell you where they are at all times. They can leave a note or a recorded message.
  • They should never hitchhike or accept a ride from a stranger.
  • They should avoid shortcuts through empty parks, fields, or alleys.
  • They should know to run home or go to the nearest public place and yell for help if they are being followed.
  • They need to recognize suspicious behavior and remember a description of the person or vehicle to give you or the police.
  • Tell them to write the license plate number down in the dirt or some other means if nothing else is available.
  • Teach them that if they are attacked for money, jewelry or clothing to give it up rather than risking injury.


Additional Strategies

They should feel that they can talk to you and call you to pick them up at any time, any place, and under any condition.  

  • Look carefully at your child’s clothing each day. Avoid clothing and toys with your child’s name on it. A child is less likely to fear someone who knows his/her name.
  • Check out all potential babysitters and older friends of your child.
  • Never leave your child alone in a public place, stroller or car, not even for a minute.
  • Always accompany your child on door-to-door activities.
  • Point out safe houses or buildings where children can go if they are in trouble.
  • There is more safety in numbers. Please encourage your son/daughter to use the “buddy system”.
  • Child molesters and abductors usually look like everyday people. Tell your kids not to talk to adults they do not know. Often times, molesters will befriend a child by asking for help. Teach your children that it is not normal for adults to need help from children.
  • Teach your children their name, age, address and telephone number.
  • Create an environment in which the child feels free to talk to you. Let him/her know that you are interested and sensitive to their fears.
  • Teach them that the police are their friends and that they can rely on them if they are in trouble.
  • Keep an up-to-date color photograph of your child, a medical and dental history, and have your child fingerprinted. In fact, recent technology has numerous companies advertising “DNA I.D. Kits”.
  • Make a list of important names, phone numbers and addresses. Place the list where it is easily accessible to the child at home, near the telephone.


Parental Abduction Strategies

Most cases of parental child abduction take place after or during a divorce, when one parent has custody. If you and your spouse are having problems, you should seek legal advice.

  • Make a record of any threat or unusual activity by your spouse or ex-spouse.
  • You may wish to apply to the court for a custody order or in abusive situations, a temporary restraining order. Make sure copies of all court papers, including restraining orders, are provided to school sites, child care facilities and summer camps. Remember to provide local police departments with copies of restraining orders.
  • Know and maintain as much current information about your spouse or ex-spouse as possible, including driver=s license number, social security card number, credit, employment and financial information.
  • Do not withhold or unfairly manipulate your spouse or ex-spouse=s access right if she/he is acting in accordance with a custody agreement. Often frustration or anger is an underlying reason for many parental abductions.
  • If your child has a passport, make certain that it is in your possession.
  • Assure your children that they are loved and wanted because abducting parents frequently tell their children that the other parent does not want them.

What if?

If your child is missing, make a careful search of your home and surrounding property.

  • Check with playmates, friends and neighbors (keep an up-to-date list.)
  • Check favorite play areas.
  • Call all friends, neighbors, relatives, school site, and police.
  • Identify the clothing, backpack or any items in your son/daughter=s possession when last seen.
  • If you suspect a child abduction, call 911 and discuss the situation with the police.  Local enforcement agencies and the Orange Unified School District will communicate and work together in all matters.


Child Abduction and Megan's Law:

There have been a series of tragic events throughout our nation involving children at the hands of strangers.  OUSD put together a flyer addressing “Strategies to Combat Child Abduction” in March of 1997.  The flyer was based on numerous website information.  Everyone in our district, from our Board of Education to our school site staff members, is asking what can we do to help children from being victims of “Child Abduction”.  Below you will find an updated flyer for parents and a dozen websites focusing on “Child Abduction Prevention”.  In addition, the California Attorney General has placed Megan Law Offenders on their website.  Make certain to read the disclaimer completely.  Please take the time to share these strategies with your loved ones!


In the event of any questions pertaining to this information, please contact
Ed Howard at (714) 628-5424 or email ehoward@orangeusd.org


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