A Missing Child ? Every Parents Worst Nightmare
As a retired police officer and father of 4 children I know full well the heartache and torture involved when a case involves a missing child. There are so many thoughts that go through your head as you respond to a call of that nature. Mentally you are trying to prepare for the worst, emotionally you try to prepare yourself for the gut wrenching story you are about to be told by the hysterical parent and of course the disastrous outcomes that are always possible.
As a Police officer you are trained to control your emotions, but when you are dealing with cases involving children, it’s nearly impossible to do. I’ve seen many tough seasoned veteran cops break down in tears and sob uncontrollably when a parents worst fear became reality and they had to break the news to them that their child had suffered great harm or even death. I recall one specific case involving a lost child that ended just a bit differently.
I was a detective at the time and since my caseload was fairly light I had a bit of time to catch up with some of the guys in uniform. I overheard a radio car being dispatched to a local big box store for a missing child report. The description of the child was pretty basic, a 5 year old female wearing pink sweat pants and a white t shirt. She disappeared from her mother about 10 minutes before the call. I decided to respond with the officer assigned and when we arrived at the store, their security staff had already activated an internal procedure securing all exit doors and had begun actively searching the huge store for the little girl. OK so far so good.
Our first step was to interview the mother of the child who I can only describe as beyond hysterical. I was trying to obtain a more detailed description of what her daughter looked like but her uncontrollable sobbing made that impossible. Even when calmed slightly, she could not provide any more detail of her child, or even a recent photo. The situation was beginning to deteriorate. The child had been missing now for over twenty minutes and there was no sign of her. The more time that passes in these types of cases typically the worse the ending is going to be. Just as another attempt was being made at gaining information from the distraught mother, a broadcast from an officer crackled loudly over the radio reporting he had located the child. The feeling of jubilation was indescribable as mother was reunited with child.
As a matter of procedure, the stores surveillance tapes were reviewed and the entire event was replayed. What had actually happened is the same thing that has occurred over and over again in the past and unfortunately will probably happen again. While shopping the girl who was seated in the rear basket portion of a shopping cart had become bored and began to misbehave. She kept standing up and that apparently angered her mother who picked her up and allowed her to walk beside the cart. Well as you can probably figure, mom became distracted and didn’t realize that her daughter had stopped to look at something on a low shelf. Mom kept walking and there you have it. Mom was separated from her child. It only took a few moments for the child to realize mom wasn’t there any more and she began to wander further away while looking for her mommy. She became frightened and had climbed onto a low shelf containing some loose fabric and was no longer visible. By the time mom realized her baby was missing, she was almost 2 aisles away from where she and her daughter became separated.
Did mom make some mistakes here? Sure she did. She became not only distracted but she allowed her child to walk freely beside her with no way of really keeping an eye on her while she shopped. Fortunately for all involved here this case had a happy ending. However, many like it do not.
There are people out there who will prey on little children and would capitalize on a situation just like this by snatching your child. If you shop with children please, keep them in a shopping cart or stroller. Secure them with the provided safety strap in the seat portion of the cart. Do not leave the cart where you can’t see it while you shop. If your child needs to use the rest room while in a public place, do not allow them to go in alone. If you have other children with you bring them all in with you. I know this is inconvenient but it sure beats the alternative.
Consider purchasing an electronic child guard monitor. These are unique devices that have 2 parts. A small bracelet or necklace transmitter that is worn by your child and the other is a receiver worn by you. If your child wanders beyond a preset distance that you choose, an audible alarm sounds on the receiver alerting you to the fact you child is beyond your comfort zone. These devices are reliable and can be secured to your child’s clothing if you choose.
Chris Bruno is a retired police officer and a contributing author for Safety Products Depot. He has written extensively on all areas of personal safety. He encourages you to visit http://www.safetyproductsdepot.com for an instant coupon for a 10% discount on everything in the store including the Child Guard Alarms.