The Police Beat:  Parents Please Talk with Your Children

Fairfax County Police Department

Parents, it is important to talk with your child about safety. Having a discussion before a situation occurs is vital. Abductions are not common. Non-family abductions are the rarest type of abduction case and make up only 1% of the missing children cases reported to National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Still, these conversations are best before your child gets lost or goes missing. Here are a few tips to discuss with your child ahead of any such incident:

Ask your parents for permission:

  • Ask before you leave, even if it is to go a few houses away or to the playground.
  • If you’re getting a ride or changing a routine, ask first.


Always tell your parents your plan:

  • Where you’re going.
  • Who you’re going with.
  • When you’ll be back.

Have a meeting spot:

  • Identify a place you and your parent can meet if you get separated.
  • Designate a meeting spot near your home or, if you’re elsewhere, a pick location to meet.
  • If you don’t have a meeting spot and get separated, stay put.

Establish safe areas:

  • Determine locations in your neighborhood that are safe to play and visit.
  • Determine the areas you need permission to go and areas you should avoid.

Have a secret word:

  • Accidents happen, if something happens to a parent, a friend or neighbor may have to pick you up
  • Create a secret word that you and your parents know
  • If someone you don’t recognize tries to pick you up, ask for the secret word

Someone follows you by foot or car:

  • Do not approach.
  • Do not enter the car.
  • If they ask you for directions or a favor, ignore them.
  • Go directly to a known location, home, school, friend’s home or business.
  • Tell a trusted adult what is going on as soon as possible.

Strangers should not ask you for help:

  • Strangers shouldn’t ask for you to help with adult tasks.
  • Don’t help look for a lost pet or play any game.
  • Never get into a car with a stranger or go into their home.

If you need help:

  • If you need help or believe someone is trying to hurt you, shout as loud as you can.
  • Don’t stop yelling and run if you need to get away.
  • Fight back if someone grabs you.

Police are here to help:

  • If you need help, tell a police officer.
  • If you have questions, please ask your School Resource Officer or tell an officer if you see them out and about.

If your old enough to be home alone:

  • Know how to call your parents.
  • Know how and when to call 911.
  • Don’t answer the door for a stranger.


For additional information and resources please visit National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.


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