LAKE PARK, Fla. - An estimated 797,500 children are reported missing each year. Authorities say 98 percent are recovered quickly. Some by police and some because kids reacted fast and got away themselves.
So what should kids do if they do find themselves in this situation? The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says they should do everything in their power to get away.
"Obviously, avoidance and recognition is much better. I mean if they can see it before it happens that's great. But if they can't they kick, they scream, they yell," explained Nancy McBride, the National Safety Director at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
"Kids don't be afraid to do whatever it takes," she said. "I heard of one case recently where the child bit the abductor, I think right on the hand. That really really hurts, and that worked. So add biting to it. Whatever you have to do to get away, do it."
The the center's research shows that among incidents that had a known outcome of how a child escaped... more than half of the children walked or ran away. Meaning there was never any physical contact.
Nearly a third of the children reported some type of reaction -- whether it be yelling, kicking, pulling away or attracting attention -- and nearly 20 percent of incidents involved either a good Samaritan or a parent coming to the rescue.
The center, which is located in Lake Park, Fla., is staffed 24-hours a day, seven days a week. McBride says they take around 550 calls a day. Each person answering the phone is trained for months to be able to handle calls regarding missing or exploited children.
As we walked around the center, McBride showed us the missing child board.
"Its important for all of us here to have this board, its inspirational for us because we know we're looking for all these kids," she said.
She talked to us about several different children, including Genny.
"Genny was 12 years old when she was abducted off her bike in Santa Rosa County. 48 hours later we got a call about her case and we were able to get a tiny snippet of video on America's Most Wanted that aired Friday night. Her abductor saw that video, brought her back into Florida and released her. And because she was able to get such good information on him, the authorities were able to capture him as well, so she a wonderful brave little girl. And it's a great story," she said.
McBride says unfortunately missing kid tragedies will continue to happen, but its important to note there is good news. The center's recovery rate for missing children has grown from 62 percent in 1990 to 97 percent today.
"Kids are getting away. And they're so smart, and they're so strong, and they know what to do," she said.
McBride says one thing very critical to their job is age progression pictures. She calls them part science and part art because when people are searching for this missing kids, its important for them to know what they would look like in 2013.
The center runs a national child safety campaign called "Take 25." Basically, they say families should take 25 minutes to talk to their children about safety and abduction prevention.
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