Can GPS Prevent Child Abductions?
Want to know where your child is right now? You can… it’s easy! You can watch the movement of your child anytime, anywhere from your web-enabled Smart-Phone or computer.
(CBS) The recent recovery of Jaycee Lee Dugard, who was located 18 years after being abducted by a stranger, once again has parents thinking about how to protect their own kids. That’s one of the reasons behind a growing number of child locator products that typically use GPS and a cellular device to help a parents and authorities pinpoint a missing child to within a few yards.
Before getting into the technology, here are some important statistics to put this problem into context.
Stranger abduction is rare
A 2002 study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Justice found that, in one year, 797,500 children were reported missing. That’s a lot, but most of them weren’t abducted. Of those, 203,900 were family abductions, which means the abductor was related to the child, often a noncustodial parent. Some 58,200 were “nonfamily abductions,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean strangers were responsible. And 115 children, a tiny fraction of those reported missing, were victims of what the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) calls “stereotypical kidnapping,” which involves “someone child does not know or someone of slight acquaintance, who holds the child overnight, transports the child 50 miles or more, kills the child, demands ransom, or intends to keep the child permanently.”
The potential loss of 115 children a year is a national tragedy, but to put it into perspective, there are 74 million children and teens in America; the odds of it happening are about 1 in 644,000, or about the same risk as being struck by lightning.
Still, it does happen and just because most abductions are carried out by family members or acquaintances doesn’t mean that they’re not potentially tragic. But it does mean that “stranger danger” is not the biggest threat to our children. In fact, because so many children are exploited by acquaintances and family members, NCMEC has stopped using that term and now refers to it as a “misguided message,” because “children don’t get it, adults don’t practice it (and) it doesn’t go far enough in protecting children from potential danger.” Plus, when a child is in trouble, sometimes their protector can be a stranger such as a police officer, a mall security guard, or a passerby.
Reasons for concern
Having said this, there is still a logical reason for parents and guardians to consider equipping their children with a device that can help locate them in an emergency. For one thing, these devices can bring peace of mind. Parents worry about their kids for a lot of reasons beyond being taken by a stranger. Have they wandered off? Did they get into an accident? Could they be lost? And it’s not just little kids we worry about. Parents of teenagers are rightfully concerned when they’re kids are away from home, especially if they’re riding or driving in cars. To be honest, my kids are now in their 20s and I still worry about them.
There are various technologies that can help protect children, ranging from devices that send out a local alarm that can be heard from a couple hundred feet away, to very sophisticated dedicated GPS tracking devices.
ABP World Group Recommends the Garmin GTU 10 Tracker.