On May 25th 1979, 6-year-old Etan Patz disappeared while walking alone to his school bus stop for the very first time, just two blocks from his Manhattan Soho neighborhood.
Etan was the first missing child to be pictured on the side of a milk carton.
The cold case which has stretched decades became hot again. This past week police investigators began digging up the basement down the street from the boy’s home.
Also last week, Dateline NBC aired a hidden camera series which tests parents’ teaching their children about strangers. In the first episode of “My kid would never do that,” Natalie Morales put her own 8-year-old son in a situation where he has to decide if it is safe to enter an ice cream truck. After he initially hesitates, Morales tears up when her son follows his friends. It’s clear that she and the other moms had the stranger talk with their children.
We have come so far to protect our children 33 years after the disappearance of Etan Patz, but as we can see in the Dateline report, the best defense is to empower our kids to handle situations by role-playing and what-if scenarios.
- Does your family have a codeword?
- Do you children have clear rules about who can come in your home? Make sure your rules are very simple. In our house, the only people who could enter were those with keys.
- If they are lost in a public place, have them ask a woman for help.
- Explain that an adult should never ask a child for help.
- If they are being followed by a car, run in the opposite direction of the car.
We hope that our children hear our messages, but it is clear we need to reinforce the message and role play as often as possible.
Best said by Ronald Regan in response to national security issues, “Trust, but verify.”
Have a great week!
Tina Nocera, Founder