The rising awareness of crimes against children, and of missing children in particular, has left many families feeling vulnerable. As a society, our efforts to prevent crimes against children have not kept pace with the increasing vulnerability of our youngest citizens. After hearing the tragic stories about abducted or exploited children, most americans are surprised to learn that many crimes against children can be prevented. It’s important that parents are aware and alert, but you and your child do not need to be afraid. The most important key to child safety is effective communication with your child. Keep in mind that children who are not listened to or don’t have their needs met in the home, are more vulnerable to abduction and exploitation. The first step you should take is to establish an atmosphere at home in which your child feels truly comfortable in discussing sensitive matters and in relating experiences. They should be able to tell you if someone has approached them in an inappropriate manner or in a way that made them uncomfortable. Children are often too afraid or too confused to report their experiences and their fears. You should treat your children as you would your adult friends, allow them to talk freely about their likes and dislikes, their friends, and their true feelings. If your child is missing call the national center for missing & exploited children. Contact a child safety program in your area for more information.