Letters to Editor
You and your 3-year-old daughter are at a shopping centre; you pay the
cashier and collect your purchase. You look down for your little girl and she is
At first you casually call her name, but there is no reply.
You think that she may be playing a game of hide and seek and you look around
the service counter. Sheís not there.
Your call is louder and your voice has a tone of alarm in it. No response.
Frantic now, you start to think about the possibilities. You scan as you run.
There is still no sign of your precious girl.
Itís been only 3 minutes and youíve imagined the worst. An abduction.
What do I do?
Your mind is racing. You try to rationalise. Iíll ask for help. But who?
You approach the cashier at the service counter but she is annoyed at your
interruption while dealing with another client. She tells you to wait your turn.
You see a red jumper bopping up and down in one of the mechanical toys on the
far end of the shopping centre.
You run and with absolute relief you recognise your little girl. You seize
her, wanting to hug her and cry at the same time.
Your situation had a happy ending. You were lucky.
More and more busy crowds are becoming an unavoidable part of our lives. Itís
no wonder. We have more shopping centres, more events and more people than ever
Crowds are very much part of Asian culture, but this growing trend of crowds
in the Western world is a relatively new phenomenon. Businesses like Event
Management, Crowd control and security etc. are booming. Authorities who control
these events understand that proactive action is necessary to optimise success
and minimise disaster.
What are we as parents or caregivers doing to safeguard our families in this
environment of ever-growing crowds?
Children getting lost in crowds are a common occurrence. However ask any
parent who has lost a child, even if it was just for a few minutes, and they can
recall their horror in detail as though it happened yesterday.
Itís important that we teach children preventative strategies for getting
lost and also defensive strategies should they find themselves separated from
their parents or care givers. Do this by putting together a plan that your whole
family is sufficiently familiar with. Here are some guidelines.
Getting Your Plan Together:
Children do not always follow your instructions, but forewarned is forearmed.
- Know where your children are.
- Teach your children to always ask permission to go anywhere.
- Encourage your children to always keep within eyesight range of you.
- Teach children never to hide away from you when they are in a public
- When you arrive at your destination take some time to familiarize yourself
and your family with the environment.
- Identify people who are appointed to help, like security and first aid
posts. Identify their uniforms, if that is relevant.
- Identification is one of the most assumed and neglected elements of
keeping our children safe. Children should aim to memorise their first and
last names, their phone numbers and address. Of course this is not always
possible. There is a great product on the market that does just this. An
identity wristband that is attached to your childís wrist. The Jellibeam
Kidz iD Tagz is a single use, high quality PVC identification wristband that
is designed to be worn around a childís wrist so that the contact
information of their parents or carer is readily available in case they are
lost in a public place. (Usually a mobile phone number) They can only be
removed from the childís arm by cutting off the wristband.
- Have your mobile phone charged and with you. This will enable you to make
and receive urgent calls while you remain mobile.
- Decide on a central meeting point should the family members find
- Do not allow your children to go to public toilets by themselves.
- Teach your children to follow their instinct.
- Carry current photographs of your children.
- Should your child have any medical condition, particularly those which
need medication, like diabetes, be sure to advise the relevant authorities.
- If you do happen to loose a child, your first step should be to contact
the person who can best arrange appropriate action. For example if you are
in a large store, contact the store management who can help getting an
announcement arranged that will also get the staff into action. The senior
members of staff would also be more than familiar with the store layout.
Ensure that the authorities you have made contact with have your mobile
Stranger Danger is taught at school, but should be reiterated at home. Of
course your toddler would not have had those very important lessons, so please
make sure they too are aware of ĎStranger Danger Rulesí In their book, The
Complete Book of Child Safety, Drs Cohen & Kilham, & Prof Kim Oates
say: Stay at least two armsí lengths away from any stranger. Do not talk to
strangers even if they know your name. Do not take anything from a stranger
even if it is something at belongs to you. Do not ever go with a stranger even
if the stranger says that he or she was sent by a parent or teacher to collect
Make an effort to know all your childrenís friends and their parents. Have
their contact details handy.
- Be aware that it is a common misconception that one has to wait 24 hours
to alert authorities of a missing person. If it is out of character for the
person to be missing, an immediate response will be carried out.
Some Interesting Australian Statistics
- Children and Young people are three times more likely to go missing than
- 86% of people who have gone missing are located in one week. With the
majority being found within 24 hours.
- 99% of those reported missing are found.
- To find a missing person it costs the community and average of $2,360 per
I hope the experience of losing a child never happens to you.
There is help out thereÖ
- To obtain product information on Jellibeam Kidz iD Tagz: www.jellibeam.com
or contact the Agent: Cass 0425 869854
- An emotional support resource and a list of professional organizations
offering help for missing persons or those suffering from emotional stress
relating to a missing persons: www.missingpersons.org.au
- If you are a person who has gone missing, are over 18, and would be
willing to assist in research, contact: Catriona @ University of Sydney at
- For further information on Missing Persons visit the website of National
Missing Persons Unit in Canberra: