JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Social media has become an effective tool for Jacksonville police to help reunite wandering children with their families, but the sheriff's office says it's having to use that tool too often.
Two little boys wandered away from their homes last weekend and the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office had to post their photos to Facebook to track down their parents.
It's become an unfortunate pattern, JSO spokesman Officer Christian Hancock said.
“I can tell you that they are happening and they are happening far too often. These are children that can’t protect themselves on their own,” Hancock said.
Losing a child could put you in jail with charges ranging from child neglect to abuse, which are both felonies.
In July, a 3-year-old boy walked out of his house when his uncles lost track of him. They are now facing child abuse and neglect charges.
The Department of Children and Families said it investigates an average of 900 cases of neglect or abuse in Duval County each month.
For parents like Shaun Lafferty, a father of four, keeping up with children is a 24-hour job.
“When they start walking, you’re like, 'Wait a minute. Where did they go in the house?' Kids can wander off in the house,” Lafferty said.
But there are ways to prevent a child from wandering away.
One safety feature parents can use to keep a child safely inside a home is a clamp for the doorknob that prevents the child from opening the door.
Alarms on exterior doors can also alert parents to a child wandering outside.
Those and other safety items can be found at baby and retail stores.
Police said parents need to do anything necessary to make sure children don’t stray.