After kidnapped women found, expert reminds parents to talk to their kids about child safety
MILWAUKEE - A local expert who works very closely with missing children cases in Wisconsin says the kidnappings in Cleveland are the perfect example of why parents should talk to their kids about child safety.
Susan Whitehorse works at the state Department of Justice and Wisconsin's Missing and Exploited Children and Adults Program. She's also the state's Amber Alert coordinator.
"The best line of defense is for parents to sit down and review the rules of child safety. It only takes 25 minutes," said Whitehorse.
You can start talking to your kids as soon as they are able to understand language. It can be a fine line to walk though.
"We don't want to instill fear in our children. We want to empower them to know how to respond and protect themselves in any kind of situation that may be uncomfortable or may provide danger to them."
Whitehorse also recommends role playing.
"Do scenarios to make sure the children understand what [parents] are teaching them about the rules of child safety," said Whitehorse.
Children need to know what to do in a dangerous situation.
"They need to yell, kick, scream, do anything possible to draw attention to protect themselves," she added.
The conversation shouldn't be a one-time thing. Whitehorse recommends reviewing child safety on a regular basis.
Parents should also talk to their children about safety on the Internet, where a potential abductor could build a relationship with a child over time.
Right now, there are more than 900 missing children cases in Wisconsin alone. While the vast majority are runaways, others are the more stereotypical kidnappings off the street.
"Those are the rarest kinds of abductions," said Whitehorse.