Losing your child in a crowded place is every parent’s worst nightmare. But when the unthinkable happens, there are some simple steps you can take to quickly find a missing child and protect them from a potential abduction.
Hertfordshire-based blogger Vicky Hamilton-Ross shared her family’s experience of losing her four-year-old nephew on a busy beach – and the important advice they learnt from the team of army cadets who tracked him down.
Writing on her blog www.oliversoutings.com , Vicky said: “So, even talking about a child going missing gives me the shivers!
“I would love to just bury my head and pretend it doesn’t happen but a few years ago that missing child was nearly my nephew.
“I would say ‘luckily’ they got him back but actually it wasn’t luck at all.
“It was the very quick actions of the army cadet guys stewarding at the event.
“Every parent should know what they did, so they can do the same if needed.”
How to find a missing child
Vicky’s nephew Jake was with his extended family at a seaside event in Bournemouth when his mum Lucinda momentarily let go of his hand.
When she reached out for him again, he had vanished. She tried to stay calm and started calling out his name.
(The family were visiting Bournemouth beach. Image diego_torres)
Vicky said: “Within minutes, an army cadet who was stewarding the event spotted Lucinda and immediately asked what had happened and who she was looking for.
“He wasted no time and himself and the other guys stewarding started shouting over and over again: ‘We are looking for a boy’. ‘He is four years old, blond and in a red T shirt. Have you seen him?’
“They repeated this loudly and constantly as they covered the areas nearby.”
“It could have been a very different ending without such quick actions”
Within about 15 minutes, Jake was located a little further down the beach. However, his explanation of his disappearance “would make any parent’s blood run cold.”
Jake told his family that a “bald man in a white T shirt” had approached him and told him he would take him to see a real rocket ship.
“The police think this was an unplanned abduction,” Vicky said.
“He had to walk a fair way on the beach before he could get to the road, so it was risky.
“So he basically just saw Jake and took his chance, how quickly it happened is scary.”
Vicky believes it was the quick action of the stewards that “undoubtedly” saved Jake from possible harm.
“By very quickly shouting out the description of Jake and that he was lost, it meant the guy couldn’t leave the beach without being spotted, so he just left Jake and walked away.”
After her family’s experience, Vicky took to her blog to urge other parents to use similar tactics if their child ever goes missing during an outing.
“Even if you suspect they are just round the corner, what’s the worst that could happen, you are slightly embarrassed because they hadn’t gone anywhere? Well worth that risk.”
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