Marc Klaas (President & Founder, KlaasKids Foundation) gives expert video advice on: How can my child prevent his own abduction?; What can I do to help the return of my child in case he is ever abducted? and more...
How often are children abducted?
Well, the numbers have been actually very steady over the years and basically there are approximately Eight-hundred and fifty thousand children reported missing to law enforcement over the course of any given year. About half of those children are runaways or throw-aways, which is a term used when parents basically kick their kids out of the house. I'd say another half, another 25%, would probably be parental abductions. And then the other 25% are divided between just children not being where they're supposed to be at a given time and then basically ratcheting it down to the stereotypical stranger abduction. It seems to occur, I'd say, a few thousand times a year. They seem to result in the death of the child maybe a hundred and fifty to two-hundred times a year.
Who are the primary perpetrators of child abductions?
The primary perpetrators would be family members. It tends to be non-custodial parents, who in the middle of a vicious custody dispute, or as some kind of a revenge against a lost spouse, use the children against each other and often will take them into an underground situation where the custodial parent can't get their hands on them.
What can I do to help the return of my child in case he is ever abducted?
There are several things that you can do. Certainly you want to keep a current picture on hand, and you also want to have that identifying and privacy information written down somewhere so that if there is an event, you will be able to hand that information over to the first law enforcement officers so that they can jump start the investigation. You also want to get any kind of information you can on that individual. Who is his family or her family, where do they live, any kind of credit card information, any kind of cell card information, or cell phone information, any kind of vehicle registration information. And the more information you have on a non custodial parent, certainly the better prepared you will be, in case that individual tries to take the child away; because the worst thing that can happen is that they are successful in stealing that child, and really putting distance between you and them, because then it becomes really problematic. Or in the worst case scenario, if they were to go overseas with that child, because then it becomes virtually impossible to recover the child. The government won't intervene on your behalf, because they will never, ever, put, jeopardize foreign affairs over the safety and welfare of one citizen. And you're then subject to the rules of whatever country that person goes into. There's not an international treaty or an international court case that's going to be worth a hill of beans in that kind of a situation.
What is a "child identification kit"?
A child identification kit would be something as simple as an updated picture, perhaps fingerprints of a child, all the personal and private information such as identifying information being written down, maybe some dental records or impressions of teeth, perhaps some medical records of that child particularly if that child requires medication on a regular basis and then maybe even a DNA collection of the child for a worst-case-scenario kind of a situation. It's really nothing more than that. It's sort of a preventative measure, first of all. You do a child identification kit and use that as an opportunity to talk to your kids about their safety so again they can avoid that victimization to begin with.
Where can I find child identification kits?
Well, you can log on to my website, "KlaasKids.org" and I'll send you one. Often, you can get a child identification kit from your local police or sheriff as well. Many communities throughout the United States are non profits organizations that are localized to do this kind of work. So, child identification kits are not difficult to find. And then, finally, I guess one can use it accordingly. This is not rocket science we're talking about. We're just simply talking about collecting personal information about your child and keeping it in a safe place where you can get your hands on it 24/7.