The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) statistics show that in the USA there were 288 infants abducted from 1983 until 2013. The statistical information provided by the NCMEC includes, “all USA cases documented by NCMEC, IAHSS and FBINCAVC concerning the Abductions by Non-Family Members from healthcare facilities, homes, and "other places" of Newborns/Infants (birth to 6 months).”
A non-family abduction defined by the NCMEC is someone other than the parent or caregiver, someone outside of the family. When it says a non-family abduction it means a parent or caregiver did not take the infant. The cases of non-family infant abductions totaled 288 babies six months of age or less occurring over a period of twenty years. In the BIG picture 288 infant abductions is a relatively low number if compared to the NCMEC data showing there are “approximately 4 million births in USA yearly at more than 3,500 birthing facilities”.
If one studies, the data provided by the NCMEC closely the risk of infant abduction is only slightly greater from a healthcare facility than form the home. Since 1983, 132 infants disappeared from healthcare facilities, with the most infants (77) taken from the mother’s hospital room. The rest of the locations within a healthcare facility included the nursery, pediatrics, and the hospital grounds were relatively equal in the number of infants taken, averaging 17 to 21 infants per location. Of the 132 taken, 127 were located, with five still missing.
Next, 117 infants were taken from their home, 113 recovered and 4 missing and 1 deceased. However, in the home there is a greater risk of injury to the mother than in the healthcare facility. Finally, “other places” had 39 infants taken, 36 located and 3 still missing. The incidents of violence to the mother were about the same as in a healthcare facility. This could be for a variety of reasons, but most likely in a healthcare setting and a public setting the kidnapper was less likely to use violence to draw less attention to his or her self. Where in the baby’s home if the mother is the only person present (other than the infant) taking an infant with violent force is not likely to draw immediate attention and perhaps bring help for the mother and baby.
Looking at the statistics one has to wonder how to decrease the risk of infant abduction from the moment a baby is born until 6 months of age. In the USA, announcing a new family member’s arrival is usually a BIG deal. Parents tie pink or blue balloons to mailboxes or front doors, rent giant stork yard signs that are located in the front yard proudly displaying the date of birth, the infant’s height and weight and other vital statistics, and place announcements in local newspapers. With the availability of the internet, it is not difficult to look up personal information on any one. Just take a second and Google your name or address.
In addition, many first time mothers wishing to keep their baby out of an institutionalized day care setting will advertise for in-home nanny. Resulting in strangers reading an ad placed in a local newspaper. As an applicant calls the number listed in ad for more information about the nanny position if the mother feels the person is qualified, the mother usually invites the applicant for a personal interview. When the applicant arrives for the interview, the mom eagerly opens the door inviting the potential nanny inside the home where the mother and baby reside.
Finally, any mother who has had an infant knows that before discharge occurs the parent receives a welcome baby basket, which is full of free or deeply discounted baby products. Most have forms to fill out that allow the hospital to “sell” the name and address to the company with the promise of more gadgets, the name and address are provided to major companies who make diapers and other baby gadgets.
Consider wisely how and whom you tell when you find out your pregnant, and once you give birth to your son or daughter. Be vigilant and report any suspicious activity in the hospital immediately. Often hospitals not only have an alarm armband on mom, but there is one on the infant’s ankle. Never allow your child to leave with anyone unless you are certain he or she works for the hospital and has clearance to take your baby from your room.
If in doubt, call security immediately and report your concerns. If possible, take a photo of the suspicious person with your cell phone and do NOT allow them to take your infant out of the room. Always err on the side of caution. Ask questions first. Who cares if a nurse gets her feelings hurt because you question her identity, the safety of your newborn is more important.