(NEW YORK) — Right now, 40,773 children are missing across America, according to the FBI.
While anyone can be kidnapped, teen and tween girls are the most vulnerable group, said the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
Kidnappers are not always who you think they will be. They are usually relatives or they know the child.
A car is used in most abductions. Perpetrators typically strike between the hours of 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., according to an NCMEC study, and most often lure children by offering them a ride, giving them candy, asking questions, offering money or using a cute animal.
Parents should supervise their children and talk to them early and regularly about their safety, say experts.
The NCMEC suggests telling your children:
- It’s OK to be rude if someone is making you uncomfortable. Say “no,” walk away and tell a trusted adult.
- Always go places with a friend and stay with the group.
- You should never approach or get into a vehicle without my permission. If someone is following you in a vehicle, turn and run in the other direction. Tell me or another trusted adult what happened right away.
- When you are home alone, do not open the door for anyone.
- Tell me where you are and where you are going.
- If we are separated and you need help, ask a police officer, a store clerk or a parent with children.
- If someone grabs you, kick, yell and pull away.
If you think you have seen a missing child or if your child is missing, immediately contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children 24 hours a day, seven days a week: 1-800-843-5678 or 1-800-THE-LOST.
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