I have heard a lot about the missing girls in the DC area. The Washington DC police department is saying that there is not an actual increase in the numbers of missing girls, but that through the police’s use of social media, especially through tweets they brought more awareness to the issue of missing young women. The numbers fluctuate with the last being 25 teens in the last month. I have also read that the D.C. Mayor has created a task force and other initiative to find the missing girls. I will have to applaud social media and the outcry of others for bringing more awareness to this issue. As I ponder over this issue there are some questions that come up for me, such as:
If these young girls are runaways, what is happening in their home environments?
Where are these young women’s parents in all of this?
Are we as the public being told the truth, it seems it may be more to the story?
I don’t believe they are all runaways, but what is happening to our young girls?
Either way this is an alarming story, and has shed light on the issue of missing children. My children are all grown, but my heart strings are pulled for these young women and their families. Obviously, as I look at this situation, I see that the most vulnerable, are those that don’t seem to have family connections, or their parents may not know their whereabouts. Then there are those of lower economic groups, and certainly young women of color. While there is a lot of social issues attached to either of those thoughts. It all boils down to, how can we as parents, keep our children safe? I don’t have all the answers, but listed below are a few common sense approaches, I always used with my girls, who all have grown up to be awesome young women. In their teenage years we had our share of disagreements, and struggles, as any honest parent of teenagers will admit, but I think these ground rules helped me.
1. Know where your children are- Keep up with there schedules, there friends, and their friends families. Make an effort to meet their friends and the families of their friends. Do not let your children spend the night with any and everybody. Remember you are the parent, and ultimately you are responsible for their safety.
2. Keep up with their internet activity- You pay the bills, so you can check their phones, computers, etc whenever you like. Put any safeware protection etc, block certain things, and do what you need to do, to ensure your child’s safety.
3. Drive your children where they need to go, or make sure they are with other responsible adults that you absolutely trust. There are to many, unattended children on the bus etc. I know that there are times when you may work, or some parents do not have a car, this can be difficult. However, if they must travel on public transportation, try to get them in large groups. Ensure your child has a cell phone to be able to contact you, especially in emergencies if needed.
4. Create a safe and loving home enviroment, where your children feel loved and safe. Even if there are disagreements in the home, if children feel safe and loved they will come home. Be the person your children come to, for support, wisdom, and love.
5. Make sure, that even when they travel in groups to the mall etc, that you pick them up and drop them off. Make sure you arrive and pick them up promptly, at the agreed upon spot. If they are late, find out what is going on, investigate, get out of the car, and look for them.
6. In the unfortunate incident, that your child comes up missing, contact the police, neighbors, and friends. Form search parties, talk, use social media, posters, use whatever or whomever you need to get the message out. Ask for help from others in searching for your child.
7. It takes a village to raise a child, we are all members of the village. Know your neighbors, ask for help and help them by reporting anything or anyone that is suspect. Protect all the children in your neighborhood, by looking or checking on them. If you see children in your neighborhood out playing, even if they are not your children, check on them periodically. Start neighbor hood watch programs. But enlist the help of your neighbors that you trust, and know. We are each other’s keeper. It is not about being nosy, it is about keeping our children safe.
These are just a few items. I thought of , do you have others, add them to the comment section.