Since 1971, a nightly public service announcement has appeared on endless

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American television screens which poses the question; ‘Do you know where your children are?’ This announcement originated on the ABC-affiliate WKBW-TV network (but has been employed by many channels since its inception) and usually airs at 10 or 11pm, depending on localised youth curfews and each channel’s target audience demographic.

As you can see from the following video, it is celebrities who are most often employed to utter the slogan in recent times:

The effectiveness of this announcement is questionable however. I am sure that many adults could only respond with a ‘no’ on a regular basis. Many parents do not ask enough questions regarding their child’s afterschool or evening plans, assuming their offspring will be safe and easily contactable due to the popularisation of mobile phones and social networking amongst youths.

This is somewhat excusable should the child be on the verge of adulthood but no good Mom or Dad should ever be unaware of the whereabouts younger offspring (read as 17 years or less). The authorities are usually called whenever a child goes missing for a significant time. Parents who cannot provide any information regarding where their son or daughter might be will be considered as very irresponsible individuals.

This is why it is imperative that parents source as much information as possible before allowing their child to leave their sight.

What Information Should I Seek Pre-Play Date?

  • If your son/daughter asks to visit a friends’ house for a few hours or overnight, it is important to write down the relevant address, contact telephone number and full name of an adult at that address. This is vital information that can be passed to the police should your child go AWOL.
  • If your child is particularly young (14 years or less) you should phone the adult to confirm their invite and to settle your mind. This is especially imperative should the friend be newly acquired since you’ll have no idea as to what the parents of this friend will be like (you wouldn’t want to leave your offspring with just anyone!)
  • Always ask your child when and how they plan to get home. Always be sure to speak to any adult that agrees to bring home your little one/s. Some teenagers can be trusted to use public transport to get home but do be sure to ask what the arrival time is of their selected rail/bus service.
  • It is important to tell your children what you would like them to do should any of their original plans change or fall through. A scheduled trip to the local playground to enjoy the outdoor climbing frames might become something quite different should the heavens decide to open all of a sudden! Being informed of the latest updates to your kid’s itinerary will helps you to keep tabs on their whereabouts and prevent worry.
  • You will need to provide your own address and contact details to the parents of your child’s play-date also. Affixing an address and/or phone number tag inside of the coat of very young child can see them easily seek help from adults should they become lost too.

Additional Precautions

  • Many parents find it reassuring to hear from their child regularly should their planned absence be longer than a few hours, or an overnight stay with a friend. Incessantly bombarding your child’s mobile phone with calls and texts will make them feel suffocated. There is nothing wrong however, with asking your child/teenager – or the adult responsible for them – to send a text message or give you a quick call at bedtime, or after arriving safely at the cinema/rock concert/theme park (etc.) they have chosen to attend.
  • Sadly, some children will lie to their parents regarding their plans, especially as they reach their rebellious teenage years. If you suspect that your child is planning to betray your trust, be sure to give them a proper grilling and/or suggest that you get involved in some way; “Oh, you’re going to Megan’s? I’m heading that way, I’ll give you a lift…” The truth should soon be spilt.

Katrina Longford is the mother of four children and is employed as a Climbing Frames UK safety expert.