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Keeping your child safe

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POSTED: Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - 6:33pm

UPDATED: Thursday, January 17, 2013 - 10:22am

BATON ROUGE, La (NBC33) -- In many cases, it is terrifying when a child doesn't come home on time, or isn't where they're supposed to be.

On average, a child is reported missing every 40 seconds. Most of those children end up being found very quickly, but unfortunately, not all of them. Approximately 260,000 children are abducted in the United States every year.

Abductions can happen anywhere. "There's not a specific geographical, socioeconomic area where it happens," says Major Lawrence McLeary with the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office. "Abductions happen because there are just people out there that are sick and are looking for children to take for whatever purpose."

That's why parents need to talk with their children. It's not just about avoiding strangers. It's about avoiding dangerous situations.

"We should give children specific kinds of defensive mechanisms and not just say 'don't talk to strangers' because in a lot of instances, abductions are done by people kids know."

And what happens if your child does go missing? "That's when you start making phone calls to those familiar friends, to familiar places that they should have been," says McLeary.

Have an up-to-date photo of your child. Know your child's height and weigh, what they were wearing, and where they were last seen. "Information is obviously the most important thing when locating a child," says McLeary. "We want to know where that child was going, who they were going with, the time that they were supposed to be coming back, and the route they were taking."

Often times, law enforcement agencies suggest waiting 24 hours before reporting a missing person, but McLeary says, don't take any chances. "It's your child. You love them. You want them home safe. We want them home safe. When your gut instinct tells you something's wrong, call us."

Here are several websites parents can take a look at for more tips on how to keep their kids safe:

http://www.infoline.org/InformationLibrary/Documents/Child%20Abduction%20Prevention%20fj.asp

http://www.amberalert.gov/

http://www.lsp.org/amber.html

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