Saint Louis Public Schools is committed to providing a safe, comfortable learning environment for your child. However, outside our school walls and online, we do not have the ability to shield students from some of the dangers in our community. Child abductions and human trafficking are significant problems in the St. Louis area, and we encourage you to become familiar with warning signs and resources if you suspect your child is in danger or you believe another child you come into contact with is in danger.
Source: National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
Parents should learn when and where kids are most vulnerable in order to better protect them. In an analysis of attempted abductions, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children found that many:
- Involved a suspect driving a vehicle
- Occurred between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
- Occurred when the child was traveling to or away from school
- Involved girls and children between the ages of 10 and 14
"Stranger danger" is a familiar phrase taught to children to discourage them from associating with strangers who could harm them. However, most child abductions involve a relative or someone else the child knows. Help your child understand boundaries, even with family members. Use this information to develop a safety plan for your children:
- Point out places they can go for help when walking places like school and the park.
- Remind them to travel and stay with a group.
- Warn them about accepting rides or changing plans without your permission.
- Teach them the tricks would-be abductors use, such as offering money or asking for help.
- Encourage them to tell a trusted adult whenever anything or anyone makes them uncomfortable.
RISK FACTORS FOR CHILD TRAFFICKING
Source: Child Law Practice. Nov2015, Vol. 34 Issue 11, p171-171. 1p
"The average age for victims entering the human trafficking lifestyle is 14-16 years old," said Elizabeth Goatley, Ph.D., assistant professor in Baylor University's Diana R. Garland School of Social Work, who studies trafficking. "Each year, there are 30,000 to 40,000 children at risk for trafficking recruitment. Some common places for recruitment are schools, bus stations, homeless shelters, malls and on the Internet." READ MORE
POTENTIAL INDICATORS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING
Source: Texas Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force. (2014). Introduction to human trafficking: A Guide for Texas education professionals. Austin, TX: Retrieved from http://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.
If you think you have seen a missing child, contact the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.
Mrs. Regina Sykes, the mother of 25-year-old Berkeley resident Monica Sykes who has been missing since Oct. 28, 2016, is available to come talk to students about her family's experiences. She can be reached at 314-737-8995.