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Free tools help sharpen focus on child safety

MArch 2, 2011

You may have already seen the flyers or press releases. There are local and national companies putting together Hood River parent education events in response to the recent attempted abduction of a 7-year-old girl in Odell.

Some of the events are geared to provide more than information. According to materials forwarded to the Hood River News, at least one national company will be offering (selling) "child safety products and services" to families attending the local education events.

According to Sheriff's Detective Matt English, several free resources already exist for families, which may provide parents a no-cost option to increase their child's safety.

"We have free DNA kits at the sheriff's office which can be used at home, with results kept in the parents' possession," said English. "We also have free gun lock kits."

Beyond maintaining DNA identification information for children, parents can also implement a simple safety procedure to help a child know if an adult is "safe" to trust.

The "family password system," said English, involves choosing a special, unusual word that the whole family knows will be used in the event of an emergency.

If a known or unknown adult approaches the child and indicates that their parents authorized them to take the child, the child can ask for the password. If the adult has been "approved" by the parents, they will have been told the password, and can provide it.

"We are not just teaching 'stranger danger' these days," said English. "Known adults may also pose a risk. Using the family password system allows the child to know if their parents trust that adult."

English also indicated that in the event of an actual abduction, the nationwide Amber Alert system already exists to distribute emergency information rapidly via approved law-enforcement protocols.

Parents may also wish to access the Sheriff's Office website which provides links to both local crime mapping and Oregon State Police sexual predator residence information. Both of these services are free.

To receive one of the free safety kits from the sheriff's department, written requests may be submitted via their website at: info@hoodrivers-heriff.com or kits may be picked up in person at: 309 State St.

Additional information may be obtained by visiting the Hood River County Sheriff's "Keeping Our Kids Safe" webpage at: http://www.hood-riversheriff.com/Keep-Kids-Safe.php. Parents may also call 541-386-2098 for more information.

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