ACTOR TIM KANG FROM CBS “THE MENTALIST” HEADS CAMPAIGN TO HELP PARENTS KEEP THEIR CHILDREN SAFE
As parents prepare for the start of a new school year, teaching children how to be safe needs to be at the top of their list of things to do. An analysis by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) of attempted abductions during the past five years found that children are at most risk when going to and from school or school-related activities. NCMEC is partnering with actor Tim Kang, of the hit CBS show The Mentalist, to launch a new campaign to help educate parents about what they should be telling their children to keep them safe.
“A common factor with children who escaped their would-be abductors was that the child did something proactive instead of being passive or polite: 31% yelled, kicked, pulled away or attracted attention and 53% of the children walked or ran away,” said Ernie Allen, President & CEO of NCMEC. “We know that teaching children about safety works. Tim Kang is an ideal spokesman to help increase awareness among parents about what they should be teaching their children to keep them safe.”
“As a new dad I am more aware than ever before of the dangers that children face and of the need for parents to do anything possible to help keep their children safe,” said actor Tim Kang. “If parents would spend just a few minutes teaching their children about safety, it could literally end up meaning the difference between life and death. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has great resources for parents including a Know the Rules series of safety tips parents should routinely review with their children.”
An estimated 800,000 children are reported missing every year. That is 2,000 children every day or one child every 40 seconds. NCMEC analyzed more than 4200 attempted abductions for the five year period from February 2005 and March 2010 and found that:
- 38% of attempted abductions occur while a child is walking alone to or from school, riding the school bus or riding a bicycle;
- 37% of attempted abductions occur between the hours of 2:00 PM through 7:00 PM on a weekday;
- 43% of attempted abductions involve children between the ages of 10 and 14;
- 72% of attempted abduction victims are female;
- 68% of attempted abductions involve the suspect driving a vehicle.
- The five most common lures included offering a child a ride, offering the child candy or sweets, showing the child an animal or asking for help finding an animal, offering the child money and asking the child for directions.
Parents also need to understand that most of those who abduct children are not “strangers”. The phrase “stranger danger” is pervasive in our culture. However, teaching children to only be afraid of strangers is the wrong message. Children don’t get it. Children view a “stranger” as someone who is “ugly” or “mean”. If someone spends time talking to a child or is even just around a child they think they “know” the person and don’t view them as a stranger. Research shows that of the 58,000 non-family abductions each year 63% involved a friend, long-term acquaintance, neighbor, caretaker, baby sitter or person of authority and only 37% involved a stranger. The number of pure strangers is not insignificant but it remains far smaller than other offenders who have easy and legitimate access to children.
As children return to school parents should take time to review the below ten Back-to School Safety Tips adapted from the NCMEC Know the Rules Child Safety series.
About the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Since it was established by Congress in 1984, the organization has operated the toll-free 24-hour national missing children’s hotline which has handled more than 2,475,300 calls. It has assisted law enforcement in the recovery of more than 151,300 children. The organization’s CyberTipline has handled more than 935,920 reports of child sexual exploitation and its Child Victim Identification Program has reviewed and analyzed more than 37,030,200 pornography images and videos. The organization works in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Justice’s office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. To learn more about NCMEC, call its toll-free, 24-hour hotline at 1-800-THE-LOST or visit its web site at www.missingkids.com.
About Tim Kang
Tim Kang is a sought after and versatile actor in both television and film. He can currently be seen on the hit CBS drama The Mentalist where his character “Kimball Cho,” the straight-arrow investigator, has emerged as a fan favorite on the show. The Mentalist won a 2009 People’s Choice Award for “Favorite New TV Drama,” and was nominated for a 2009 Television Critics Association Award for “Outstanding New Program of the Year.” Other television credits include guest-starring roles in popular TV shows, such as The Ghost Whisperer, The Office, The Sopranos, Monk, Chappelle’s Show, Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Law & Order: Trial By Jury, and reoccurring roles in NBC’s Third Watch and CBS’s The Unit. Tim was also seen in the films Rambo, The Forgotten, Two Weeks Notice.and most recently the lead in the independent film Mister Green.
Ten Important Back-to-School Safety Tips:
- Teach your children to always TAKE A FRIEND with them when walking or biking, and stay with a group while standing at the bus stop. Make sure they know which bus to ride.
- Walk the route to and from school with your children pointing out landmarks and safe places to go if they’re being followed or need help. Teach your children they should NEVER TAKE SHORTCUTS and always stay in well-lit areas.
- It is not safe for young children to walk to and from school, even in a group. Parents should always provide supervision for young children to help ensure their safe arrival to and from school. If your children wait for a bus, wait with them or make arrangements for supervision at the bus stop.
- Teach your children that if anyone bothers them, makes them feel scared or uncomfortable to trust their feelings and immediately get away from that person. Teach them it is ok not to be polite and IT IS OK TO SAY NO.
- Teach your children if anyone tries to take them somewhere they should RESIST by kicking and screaming, try to run away and DRAW ATTENTION by kicking and screaming “This person is trying to take me away” or “This person is not my father/mother.”
- Teach your children NOT TO ACCEPT A RIDE from anyone unless you have said it is ok in that instance. If anyone follows them in a vehicle they should turn around, go in the other direction, and run to a trusted adult who may help them.
- Teach your children that grownups should NOT ASK CHILDREN FOR DIRECTIONS, they should ask other adults.
- Teach your children to NEVER ACCEPT MONEY OR GIFTS from anyone unless you have told them it is ok to accept in each instance.
- Make sure the school has current and accurate emergency contact information is on file for your children and confirm names of those authorized.
- Always know where your children will be. Teach your children to always CHECK FIRST before changing their plans before or after school. Teach your children to never leave school, with anyone unless they CHECK FIRST with you or another trusted adult, even if someone tells them it is an emergency.