How to Prevent Your Child from Going Missing

Sometime in May 2011, a young American boy by the name of Timmothy Pitzen mysteriously disappeared, never to be seen again by his family, the public, or the police. After having been dropped off at kindergarten school by his father, James Pitzen, he was then picked up some time later by his mother, Amy Fry-Pitzen, who then took him around various amusement parks for three days. She was later found dead in a motel room, having killed herself by slashing her wrists and necks. She left a suicide note behind, stating that Timmothy was safe and in the care of people who would love him and take care of him but that his family would never be able to find him. 

It’s a perplexing missing child case that has stumped investigators for several years and left his father and the rest of his family heartbroken. A young teen who was found wandering across a bridge near the Ohio River claimed he was the real Timmothy when he was questioned by police. His story was later found out to be a hoax when it was discovered that his real name was Brian Michael Rini and he was already 23 years old. The real Timmothy’s distraught father once again had his hopes of being able to reunite with his long-lost son shot down. Until now, Timmothy Pitzen’s family believes he is still alive and has continued to hope for his safe return. 

The Pitzens are not the only ones having to deal with the tragic disappearance of a loved one. Each year in the United States, hundreds of thousands go missing, and a majority of these are children. We’ve compiled a few of the most baffling missing children cases that have still remained unsolved up to this day. 

Notorious Missing Children Cases 

1. Etan Patz

On May 25, 1979, six-year-old Etan Patz walked by himself to the school bus stop, which was two blocks away from his home. It was the first time he had ever done that on his own. It was also to be the last. Etan’s teacher noticed his absence at school but did not notify the principal. Later on, when Etan did not return home, his mother called the school and found out he had not been there all day. It was then that she called the police. 

Etan’s disappearance sparked a nationwide hunt, and he was the first missing child to have his photo displayed on milk cartons. A primary suspect was identified, Jose Ramos, but he was never prosecuted for Etan’s murder, as his body had never been found.

2. Madeleine McCann

Madeleine McCann was only three years old when she disappeared from her bed in her and her parents’ holiday apartment at a resort in Portugal. Her parents had left her with her two-year-old twin siblings in their apartment’s bedroom while they had dinner with friends at a restaurant about fifty meters away. Her parents checked on them regularly throughout the evening until about ten o’clock in the evening, when her mother discovered her missing. Over the next weeks, investigators listed her parents as suspects in her disappearance due to a misinterpretation of a DNA analysis result. Their suspect status was lifted due to lack of evidence, and their daughter’s disappearance is now viewed as a kidnapping.

3. Sabrina Aisenberg

Sabrina was just five months old when she went missing, making her one of the youngest ever in history to have gone missing. She was taken right from her crib in the middle of the night in November 1997 in her parents’ home in Valrico, Florida. Sabrina’s mother discovered her disappearance when she went to check on her in the morning. She was gone from her crib, and so was her yellow blanket. The door leading from the garage into their house had been left wide open, and there was no sign of baby Sabrina. Over the next several years, Sabrina’s parents continued their search for their precious baby, even creating age progression photos of what she might look at present. But all to no avail.

4. Kyron Horman

Seven-year-old Kyron disappeared on June 4, 2010, after attending his school’s science fair in Portland, Oregon. He had been driven to his school by his stepmother, who testified that the last time she had seen him was when he was walking down the hallway of his school, on the way to his first class. However, neither his teacher nor his classmates in that class reported having seen him, and he was marked as absent in all his classes. Kyron’s father and stepmother discovered his disappearance after they waited at the usual bus stop to meet Kyron when he came home, only to be informed by the bus driver that he hadn’t boarded the bus. They called his school and were only then told that he hadn’t been to school at all that day. He was never found from that day, but his disappearance sparked one of the largest criminal investigations that the state of Oregon had ever seen.

These are just a few of the hundred of thousands of missing child cases in the United States. A lucky few get to be reunited with their families, but there are a lot who are never seen or heard from again. Having a child go missing or get abducted is the biggest tragedy that parents can ever face. Not only do they have to deal with grief at having lost their child but there is also the never-ending question in their minds of whether their child is still alive or is already dead. 

Tips for Preventing Your Child from Going Missing

If you have kids of your own, your foremost concern is to protect them from any harm that might befall them. And one of the last things you’d ever want to happen is for them to go missing or get abducted. Don’t be lax and think that it won’t happen to you and your child; so many parents have thought and acted that way only to regret it when tragedy struck their family and their kids disappeared. For your benefit, we’ve compiled a list of helpful tips for you to prevent your kids from going missing and having to suffer the same fate of kids featured above. 

1. Be alert if you are out with your child in public.

Young children are intensely curious, and this can lead them to wander off when they see something that interests them. This tendency can put them at risk of getting lost or separated from you when they are out with you in a public place. Always make sure to keep them in your line of sight at all times; if this isn’t possible, then make sure they always have an adult or an older sibling to keep them company and hold their hand. 

2. Train your child on what to do when they get lost.

Part of protecting your kid is to always prepare yourself for the worst-case scenario and coming up with a step-by-step plan on how to counter it. For instance, if ever your child gets lost or is separated from you in a crowd, you’d want them to at least have a basic idea of what to do in such an instance. Train them to memorize critical information such as their names, your names, and your contact number as these can help anyone who finds them to get a hold of you. If they’re too young to memorize details yet, keep an ID with them that will help to identify them.

3. Choose the right school.

When choosing a school for your kid, make it a point to ask about the security measures in and around their facility. You’d want to make sure that the doors and gates are secured and monitored by a guard on duty and that no outsider can easily get in. Also, it helps to have policies in place that ensure that only a designated parent or guardian can pick up your child. 

4. Invest in a GPS tracker.

A GPS tracking device allows you to monitor the whereabouts of your child in real time. This means that even if he is not in your line of sight, you can instantly be updated as to where he is. Tracki is one of the leading tracking devices in the market today, and it boasts several features that can be helpful to you as a parent. First, there is its powerful combination of four tracking technologies—GPS, GSM, Bluetooth, and WiFi—that gives your access to accurate location updates in real time. It also has an SOS alert button, which your child can push in the event that he is under a threatening situation or in an emergency. There is also a discreet audio monitoring feature that allows you to listen in secretly to his immediate environment; this way, you can be updated and aware of what is happening to him and might even get a hint as to his location. 

When a child goes missing, time is of the essence, and a top-notch tracker like Tracki gives you that crucial advantage.