When 8-year-old Jared
got lost at Madison Square Garden earlier this year,
he instinctively followed a man he thought he recognized
down the escalator and onto Seventh Avenue. According
to child-safety experts, he did exactly the wrong thing.
“The first thing you should teach your child in
case he gets lost is, don’t wander away,”
says Nancy McBride, the director of prevention education
at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
What else should you know to keep kids safe in public
places? Consider the following tips from the center.
• Dress children in bright, colorful clothing
so it’s easy to spot them in a crowd. And avoid
name tags and clothes with kids’ names on them.
Children are more likely to trust an unfamiliar adult
who calls them by name.
• Make sure kids carry some form of I.D.
at all times. They should also carry emergency contact
information including your home address and cell-phone
number (a home phone isn’t useful if you’re
out combing the streets). Don’t assume your kids
know how to use a public phone. Teach them, and provide
them with change.
• When you arrive at an event, agree on a
meeting place, in case you get separated. To be
sure the designated spot registers, have your child
repeat it out loud. Give kids their ticket stubs, so
that if they get lost, someone can lead them back to
• Remind your child not to go looking for
you on her own if she gets lost. Instead, teach
her to find the first mommy she can and ask for help.
Security guards and police officers can take time to
locate, and statistics show that most child abductors
• Don’t let young children go to bathrooms
or concession stands without you, and send older kids
in groups (predators tend to target kids who are alone).
• Always carry an up-to-date picture of your
child. It’s the most important way to help
police, security guards, and others look for him.
• Teach kids to walk away and seek help
from another adult if a person or situation makes a
child uncomfortable. Have them practice exactly what
to do and say.
• For additional tips, call NCMEC at 1-800-THE-LOST
or log on to
The good news? Ninety-nine percent of kids reported
missing in 2002, according to the NYPD, were found.