As a parent and grandparent and an active member of the Council for a Strong America, where I have served continuously since 2015 on the committee Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, I place a high priority on the safety of our children.
According to the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, child means a person under 18 years of age; missing person means someone 18 years or older who’s disappearance is possibly not voluntary; and missing child means a child whose whereabouts are unknown to the child’s legal custodian. The circumstances of their absence could mean that:
•The child did not voluntarily leave the care and control of the custodian, and the taking of the child, was not authorized by law;
•The child voluntarily left the care and control of the custodian without the custodian consent, and without intent to return;
•The child was taken or retained in violation of the terms of a court order for possession, or of access to the child; or
•The child was taken or retained without the permission of the custodian, and with the effect of depriving the custodian of possession or of access to the child unless the taking or retention of the child was prompted by the commission or attempted commission of family violence.
While child abduction is rare, it’s important to use good sense as a child or a parent of a child when confronting these issues.
Share a secret code word
You and your parents should agree on a code word that is easy for you to remember. This way, if anyone tells you that you need to come with them because your parents were hurt or are in the hospital, you can ask them for the code word.
If they really are a friend of your parents, your parents would have given them the code word. If they do not know the code word, you should move away from them as fast as possible and report the incident by calling 911. If you are not able to call 911, enter a convenience store, shopping center store, gas station, etc. Then ask someone to call 911 and your parents as well. Stay where you are until law enforcement arrives and follow the instructions that will be provided to you.
Stay away from strangers
Who is a stranger? If you’ve seen someone hanging around your playground at school or in your neighborhood, this does not mean that you know him or her. Although they might have a familiar face, they still are a stranger to you.
•Strange grown-ups should never ask kids to help them
Do not go with or get in a car with a strange adult. They should not ask you for directions, nor should you help them find their lost puppy or kitten either. If someone does ask for your help, tell them to wait. Go for help as quickly as possible by calling 911.
Losing track of parents
If you lose your parents in a public place, like a store or a park, do not go looking for them. Immediately ask someone who works there for help to find them. Tell them you have been separated from your parents and you need help finding them. You should also know your parents telephone number either cell, home or both.
Other items to remember:
•Always ask your parents before going anywhere with anybody, leaving the yard or play area, going into someone’s home, or getting a ride home with someone other than your bus driver or your usual ride.
•Once you have permission from your parents, tell them where you are going, tell them how you will get there, and tell them when you will be back.
Call them and tell them if you are going to be late, and give your parents the phone number and the person’s name of where you will be going.
•If someone follows you on foot or in a car, stay away. You do not need to go near the car or talk to anyone inside a stranger’s car.
I will introduce the Amber Alert system as it relates to recovering abducted children; the system as of Jan. 2, 2023, was responsible for the recovery of 1,127 children.
To learn more about the Council for a Strong America, and specifically the committee I’m on, Fight, Crime, Invest in Kids, please go to www.strongnation.org and click on the Texas link.
Greg Capers is Sheriff of San Jacinto County.