Tragedy struck again today in Satsuma, Florida as young Haleigh Cummings was missing from her bed this morning. Haleigh lived with her father and his girlfriend. The girlfriend discovered the little girl missing at about 3 am this morning. The authorities were contacted and upon arrival found at least one entrance to the home unlocked.
The local news media report that over 25 registered sex offenders reside in the immediate area. As the father of a three year old and with another on the way, this story literally makes me ill. First and foremost my heart and prayers go out to Haleigh and her family. I pray that God return her safely to her family.
Several months ago we posted a blog regarding sexual predators. In the post we listed some great references and resources; my hope then and now is to raise awareness regarding the danger these sex offenders pose. I think this is a topic that is important to revisit. If we can help prevent just one sexual crime this is time well spent.
I have one request of everyone who reads this post. Please, please, please send it to all of your friends, family and community members.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children is a priceless resource with a wealth of information and safety tips. One of the most important resources is several links to discover and track sex offenders. The US Department manages the National Sex Offender website. Go there right now and do an advanced search of offenders in your zip code. I just did exactly that and found 30 "hits" in our zip code! You can drill down and view the picture, address and crime for each.
Now go to the FBI's "Crime Against Children" website. At this site you choose your state; you are then redirected to your State Police site (in our case this is the Louisiana State Police). This site is more detailed, for instance my search turned up 15 convicted sex offenders within a 2 mile radius of our home! To say this makes me very uncomfortable is an understatement. So then I look at the first and closest offender to my home. This guy lives less than a quarter mile from my home and has been convicted twice. The crime molestation of juvenile. As I look a little more I find that about 30 percent of these people are "non compliant", meaning law enforcement has no idea where they are. So what you get is a last known address.
Again, awareness is the key. You must go to the links above and find out the who, what and where regarding these sexual predators in your area. Now call a neighborhood meeting and show them what you've discovered. Insist that they notify everyone they know. Next, contact your local sheriff's or police department; ask them to come out and speak to your family, friends, or community. Partner with local law enforcement to help keep tabs on these animals. Post a add in your local newspaper with the web resources and encourage people to "spread the word".
Let your preist or pastor know what about these resources and ask if he can mention it in the monthly newsletter or post on the web. You get the idea! Educate yourself then educate others. You can truly make a difference. By doing this you could save a child from falling victim to these predators.
Now how do I teach my child about personal safety? Many parents and guardians feel challenged to keep their children safer in today's society. At what age can we begin teaching our children about personal safety.
Unfortunately, “one size” doesn’t fit all. A child’s ability to understand safety skills and put them into practice is determined not just by age, but also by the child’s educational and developmental levels.To truly learn new safety skills, children need to model, rehearse and practice the skills to incorporate them into their daily lives.
* Speak to your child in a calm and reassuring way. Fear is not an effective teaching tool; confidence is.
* Speak openly about safety issues. If you approach child safety openly, your children will be more likely to come to you with problems or concerns.
* Don’t confuse children by warning against “strangers.” Danger to children is much greater from someone you or they know than from a “stranger.”
* Teach children that no one has the right to force, trick, or pressure them into doing things they don’t want to do.
* Practice safety skills by creating “what if” scenarios. An outing to a mall or the park can serve as a chance for children to practice safety skills, such as checking with you before they go anywhere or do anything, and locating adults who can help if they need assistance.
* Supervise your children. It is vital to their protection and safety. Children should not be put in the position of making safety choices if they are not old enough or skilled enough to make those choices.
* Check out adults who have access to your children. The more involved you are in your child’s life, the less likely it is that your child will seek attention from other, potentially dangerous adults.
Simple Rules for Children When They Need Help
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) has a signature safety publication, Knowing My Rules for Safety, to help parents and guardians teach personal safety skills to children. The rules are simple and concise and provide encouragement and options for children who need an adult’s help.
Help make a difference today! Statistics show that the first three hours after an abduction are critical. By signing up for wireless Amber Alerts you could play a vital role in the recovery of an abducted child.
Guardian Self Defense & Security Products LLC