Yesterday appears to have been National Missing Children’s Day.

You can read some exciting tips about keeping your children safe from abduction here. They include things like:

  • sneaking home and ringing your own doorbell to test your child and see if she will answer it (she should not, according to this article).
  • teaching your kid to hang up on people with “strange voices” on the phone.
  • avoiding walking past people on the street or riding in elevators with anyone who seems ““creepy” or “questionable”.

I think this is all great advice, because it’s widely known that the greatest risk to children comes from funny-looking strangers grabbing them off of sidewalks, out of public elevators, and through telephone lines. It’s also well-established that the best way to build a trusting, open relationship with your kids is to sneak up on them and administer surprise exams to see if they are following all your rules.

My personal favorite: “Anyone who wants to spend time with your kid or has an unnatural interest should give you a red flag!”

Seriously? Did you really print that out loud, New York Times?

I assure you, I often want to spend time with kids – my own and other people’s – and I have never yet been tempted to abduct or molest one. I think the odds are quite good I never will. I also think my mother has nothing but cookies and craft projects on her mind when she offers to babysit for the weekend, and that my friend who invites Rio to go visit her grown-up ballet class does so out of a love of little girls’ dreams.

As this wonderful comment points out, the vast majority of missing children are not victims of any crime (just lost), and the vast majority of crimes against children do not involve abduction.

Personally, I’m skipping the whole enchilada of fear and paranoia articles like this serve up. When I think about keeping my children safe, my focus is on teaching them the skills they need to be confident, independent people in the world, not on keeping them small and afraid.

My kids are small, and almost always with me. I haven’t broached the subject of stranger danger with them. I’ve been more focused on teaching them how to cross streets safely, and how to speak up for themselves.

What do you do to keep your children safe? And what are you working to keep them safe from?