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BellaOnline's Missing and Exploited Children Editor

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Protecting Your Child's Personal Information


As parents, we should protect our children’s personal information fully. There are always people asking for information about our lives, family, home, and children. Unless we know for certain whom will have access to the information we are giving out, we may want to reconsider whom we allow access to our personal and private information, especially when it comes to our children.

When giving out address and phone number I do not use my home phone number, I only give out my cell phone number. I never give out my children’s name, address, phone number, or DOB unless I know that the person asking really has a need to know that information. I refuse to give out my children’s Social Security Number. There is never a valid reason for anyone to need this number. Even though most doctors, including the pediatrician, dentist, allergist office commonly ask for this information on their standardized insurance forms.

Watch out for student directories at children’s schools, these are books published at the beginning of each school year printing children’s name, address, phone number and parental name. The school states it is for students to use if the need to locate a classmate for help with homework or wish to invite a classmate to a birthday party. Most schools will send home a parental permission slip at the beginning of the school year, asking parents to list which information they prefer to share and have printed in the student directory. What I find unsettling is this directory goes to the home of every child in who attends my child’s school. I certainly do not know who is living in the homes of each student’s family. I do not feel comfortable having my children’s information floating around hundreds of homes and prying eyes. I list only my cell phone number for my children’s information.

Any school papers that need tossing, first go through the paper shredder, especially if it has the school’s name on the paper and my child’s name. My children do not wear items personalized with their name or school name, this includes, jewelry, clothes, hats, backpacks, or school spirit wear, unless it is for a field trip and for just that day.

If a child enters a coloring contest please consider using a child’s middle name, and only list the parent’s cell phone or email address, never an actual physical address. A few years ago, the restaurant Shoney’s was running a Holiday coloring contest. Children’s artwork hung displayed around the entire top of the restaurant. Normally this would not be a problem, except that the entry form the children filled out was attached below each coloring sheet, in plain view of everyone was each child’s name, age, date of birth, home address, and phone number. If they had siblings, who also entered the contest the sibling picture usually was next to the first picture, identifiable by the same home address.

I approached the manager on duty, politely pointing out that by showing the child’s full personal information placed children in danger with strangers approaching them. Also noting that the Shoney’s was located on a very busy Interstate exit where truckers and travelers from across the nation often stopped to eat and any child molester who drove through the area could see hundreds of children’s personal information right before his eyes. I tried to explain that someone could write the information down and return in a few months or years to hurt or abduct a child and no one would have an idea it was connected to Shoney’s coloring contest. I suggested perhaps by folding up the bottom portion of each page, might provide an easy and quick solution to ensure each child’s safety. The manager stated it my suggestion would be considered.

A couple weeks later, my husband and I returned to the same restaurant and no change had transpired. I again asked for the manager on duty, restated my concerns, and received little reaction. During our breakfast, I wrote down 4 dozen children’s names, address, DOB. When back home I began calling and asking for Mr. or Mrs. (enter last name of child here). I introduced myself, explaining how I got their phone number, the steps I had asked Shoney’s to take to protect their child and what response I had received. Most were shocked and immediately headed to Shoney’s to retrieve their child’s picture and information. Some people did not care, were rude, and hung up. That is ok; they are probably the same parents who let their kids out until two or three in the morning and then wonder why he or she ends up being addicted to drugs and stealing to support their habit 15 years later.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. I believe we all must work to protect the children in our world today. If we see something that is potentially unsafe then we should speak up. Choosing to ignore something does not make it go away. When we choose to ignore a bad situation, it only shows we are no better than those who are actually doing what is not right in the first place. In essence, if you know something is wrong and you choose to look the other way you are by default a part of what is happening simply by your knowledge of knowing it was happening in the first place. Speak up and be heard, take a stand for what is right and help keep our children safe!
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Content copyright © 2014 by Erika Lyn Smith. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Erika Lyn Smith. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Erika Lyn Smith for details.

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