PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – It’s a parent’s nightmare – not knowing where your child is or what happened to him or her.
Child abductions happen more than any of us want to think about.
However, there are things you can do to lessen the chances of it happening to your kids.
A retired lieutenant colonel of the United States Air Force spent two tours of duty as a chopper gunner in Vietnam.
He’s now the chief of police in Oakdale and he has a huge soft spot in his heart for kids.
“Any time a child gets injured or something, it goes to the heart of every police officer. Everybody that does this for a living, when a child gets abducted, it’s like abducting your own child. It rips your heart out,” Jim Lauria said.
Lauria is also the director of public safety at Pittsburgh Technical Institute and said it’s really old-fashioned to think that, “it can’t happen to me.”
“There’s not a boundary any longer. Child luring, child abduction stretches across all geographics, all genders, all ages. There’s nothing that you can say that’s not going to happen here,” Lauria said.
His most critical piece of advice is that parents must be accountable.
“You can’t leave it to a teacher. You can’t leave it to a police officer. There’s not enough of us. We have to be accountable for that. We [have to] know where they are,” Lauria said.
Your kids must learn a tough, not-so-pleasant lesson.
“There are people in the world who are not all good and are willing to hurt you — for whatever reason — that there are bad people. You have got to teach your child the difference between good and bad, but he has to know and she has to know not everybody is here to help you,” Lauria said.
One final piece of advice is to teach your kids to always use the buddy system as most abductions happen when a child is playing or walking alone.
“One child is so pure and wants to accept another child might say wait, wait, wait that doesn’t sound right so maybe we can play off each other’s instincts,” Lauria said.
And know that protecting your child will be tough.
“I wrote an article about what we should be doing as parents. Nothing in that article says anything about it being easy. It is the most difficult thing you are ever going to do to protect a child,” Lauria said.