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What are first steps you should take if your child disappears?

HOUSTON – Rania Mankarious is the CEO of Crime Stoppers of Houston, and she is also a mother of three children.

She said taking quick action in the minutes and hours after discovering a child's disappearance is key to a successful outcome.

Here are her tips:

  • Call law enforcement.
  • Start gathering information like photos, the last thing they were wearing, height, weight, eye color, hair color and any marks on their body.
  • Have a plan as to who's going to stay home in case the child returns.
  • Call local media, neighborhood community groups and civic groups.
  • Human trafficking

    Talking to your kids about the dangers of human trafficking is another reality for today's parents.

    Slideshow: Missing children from Houston

    There is a hazy line between a runaway child and a child that's been trafficked.

    "Children can meet somebody online or befriend a new kid at school and choose to socially meet them or go visit them or go on a trip with them," Mankarious said. "We're calling it a runaway, but it's really a kid strategically lured away by a trafficker."

    Traditional kidnappings

    Statistically, a traditional kidnapping happens most often when a child is going to or from school.

    Mankarious talks to her own children about the situations they may encounter.

     

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    "We talk about the fact that why would somebody do that, what strategy would they use? 'Hey, your mom needs you' or 'I’m looking for directions' or 'Do you need a ride?'" Mankarious said.

    She suggests having honest and age-appropriate conversations with your children.

     

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    How to make your own child-safety kit

    Make your own child-safety kit by collecting the following information about your child on a piece of paper:

    • First, middle and last name
    • Nicknames
    • Birth date
    • Age
    • Height
    • Weight
    • Sex
    • Ethnicity
    • Eye color
    • Hair color
    • Unique features (like glasses, birthmarks, braces, piercings, tattoos, etc.)
    • Doctor contact information
    • Emergency contacts
    • Fingerprints

    You'll need to use a black inkpad and take a fingerprint of every single one of your child's fingers.

    You should also include a recent, color photo of your child and a DNA sample -- anything from a toothbrush to a used bandage.