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Introducing the ‘Safe Child Notebook’

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A 99-cent marble notebook can be the all-important key to discovering the whereabouts of a missing child. That’s the contention of State Senator Eric Adams, who is asking parents across the borough to keep such a notebook, a Safe Child Book – containing current pictures and a wide range of important information — for each of their children. A similar book can be kept for elderly people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, he noted. Adams – a former captain in the NYPD — explained the project during the January meeting of Community Board 17. Addressing the group gathered at Winthrop Intermediate School, 905 Winthrop Street, Adams stressed, that, if a child is missing, parents are often too “traumatized” to provide necessary information in a timely fashion. Having all of it available in one place can give the police a leg up in launching a speedy investigation that can lead to the child’s return, he contended. “If the police don’t find a missing child within the first 24 to 48 hours, there’s a strong possibility that they will never find him or her,” Adams emphasized. “I can’t tell you how many times a cop will ask what a friend’s name is and the parent will say, Shorty or Lumpy,” Adams told the group. “The power of the book is that when a police officer responds to your child as a runaway or missing, you hand him the book. You’re not trying to find a picture or the address of a friend. We have a responsibility to be proactive, not to be reactive. The book allows you not to be helpless but helpful.” Besides a current photo (which should be changed every six months or annually, as appropriate), the book should contain the child’s full name, and his or her race, date of birth, gender, eye color, hair color, height and weight, said Adams. It should also contain the parents’ or guardians’ names, addresses and phone numbers as well as emergency contact information, and complete school contact information (name or number, address, phone number, grade and classroom number, and the names of both the school principal and the primary or homeroom teacher). Other information that should be contained in the book ranges from physical identifying information to names, phone numbers and addresses of friends and their parents. Identifying information includes scars or birthmarks, and piercings or tattoos; there should also be information about medical conditions and medications the child is taking, as well as whether the child wears glasses or braces. All of the child’s nicknames should be noted; so, too, should places the child frequently visits, the route he or she takes to and from school, and any after-school activities or locations the child attends. In addition, any unusual incidents that may have occurred should be noted down. They can provide a clue to the child’s whereabouts. Finally, according to Adams, any other “relevant information” should be included in the book. “When the information is dispatched throughout the entire city, if need be, the entire state,” stressed Adams, “it helps law enforcement personnel who are looking for the child.”

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