Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Finally Adam Walsh Can Rest In Peace

Could you imagine if you didn't know where your child was? I can't even imagine that.

In 1981, little Adam Walsh was with his mother in a mall when he just disappeared.

I remember when this happened and felt so sad for the Walsh family at that time. The picture above was all over the news and I can recall that everyone was talking about it and wondering how it could have happened.

Today, the police have finally said that the case is solved - a serial killer took their son and we can only imagine what horror that little boy went through before he was killed and decapitated.

Out of that terrible tragedy many good things happened. Mrs Walsh founded the Center For Missing and Exploited Children and Mr Walsh went on to host America's Most Wanted. Laws were changed. This case contributed to massive advances in police searches for missing youngsters across the country.

Mr Walsh's subsequent activism on his behalf helped put faces on milk cartons, shopping bags and mailbox fliers, started fingerprinting programs and increased security at schools and stores. It spurred the creation of missing persons units at every large police department.

Even President Idiot finally got something right when in 2006 he signed the Adam Walsh Child Protection Act to establish a national sex offender registry and to make it harder for predators to reach children on the Internet.

I've posted this before, but here it is again.

About 100 children a year are abducted and murdered, and the Center for Missing and Exploited Children expects that number to remain about the same for 2009. Seventy-five percent of those children are murdered within three hours, the center says.

Peter Banks, a former Washington, D.C., police officer who is the center's director of training and outreach, says parents should prepare their children by talking to them because an abduction can turn violent. "Most abductions are not really abductions: They are seductions by people whose sole ambition is to use their guile and cunning to victimize helpless children," Banks said.

"The No. 1 weapon to arm a child with is self-esteem. Tell your kids you love them and make them feel proud. If you don't tell them you love them, then someone else will."

Whatever you do, don't try to scare your kids. Dr. Carl Metzger, a Portland-based child psychiatrist, recommends parents try not to instill fear in their children or harp on the topic. Repetitive warnings make the parent seem weak or unable to provide care. "Instilling fear ruins the balance for a young child. It would make them fearful or anxious," Metzger said. "The most effective approach is for parents to give a warning in context, such as if something appears on television or a child brings the subject up. That's the perfect time to give the message."

And what is the message? Metzger says it depends on the age of the child. You can talk to a 9-year-old about how it is unsafe to go with a stranger. But you might want to tell a 5-year-old that they may go only with Mommy or Daddy. Metzger says parents need to be vigilant because society has changed in recent years. "There has been a lessening of the network that keeps children safe, and by that I mean children are often left on their own while their parents work," Metzger said. He recommends that children not veer from their destination, avoid occupied parked cars, and if someone does try to physically overpower them, shout, scream and kick.

Police have found that many abductors will flee if a child reacts in that way. As with most attempted abductions, never let yourself be taken to a second location, do whatever needs to be done to get away. "It's fight or flight. You don't have a lot of options."

Steps to take to keep your kids safe:

-Never leave a child unattended in a parked car, park, playground or store.

-Have a family "code" word to use when someone other than the parents is picking up the child. If the "code" word isn’t give, the child should not go with that person.

-Let children know that they don’t always have to listen to adults. If someone they don’t know tells them to do something, let them know that it’s okay not to listen. They should draw attention to themselves in whatever way is necessary to avoid a predator.

-The number one target of predators is adolescent girls, mostly between the ages of 8 and 15. Most girls in this age group should be warned of the dangers to them. Have a plan of action as to what they should do in any instance of danger.

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