53216237The recent disappearance of 11-year-old Nadia Bloom has affected me personally.  Perhaps it’s because she’s a schoolmate of my children and I’m viewing this tragedy through the eyes of a mother.

The last time my children saw Nadia was right before spring break at the school’s annual “Field Day” picnic where children compete in athletic games. Parents are invited to attend a picnic lunch and everyone celebrates the coming of Spring Break.    

Nadia (who has a mild form of autism) was last seen around 3:15 p.n. riding her bicycle in her gated community. Her mother contacted the police when she found Nadia’s bicycle at the end of her street along with a bicycle helmet. There are registered sex offenders who live within 2 miles of Nadia’s subdivision and that gives me great concern.   The Department of Justice reports that 2,185 children were reported missing each day and 115 of them were kidnapped, abused, killed or driven greater than 50-miles from their home never to be seen again. I certainly hope that is not Nadia’s fate.

I implore parents to be hyper vigilant regarding the safety of our children. Although Nadia lived in a middle class gated community, the state of Florida is notorious for child abductions with heartbreaking results.   The following safety tips bears repeating:

  1. Your child should know their area code and phone number and be taught not to give it to strangers
  2. Your child should always use a buddy system if possible. A child alone is an easy target
  3. Teach your children to ignore lure tactics such as money offered to find a lost dog or other methods used to gain a child’s confidence
  4. Use a family word code. My children are taught that they are NOT to go with anyone unless that person provides the “secret code.”
  5. Never put your child’s name on the outside of clothing or backpacks
  6. Teach your children that it’s okay to yell, kick or scream if they are being abducted by a stranger
  7. Have honest conversations with your children that there are “bad” people who could harm them and to be on guard

Tomorrow my children will return to a school in crisis. My family will continue to pray for Nadia’s safe return. I hope you’ll do the same.