Panel to Discuss Keeping Children Safe from Predators



FORT DODGE, Iowa – Each year an estimated 115 children nationwide are the victims of the most serious abductions – those taken by non-family members and either murdered, ransomed or with the intent to keep. An analysis of all attempted abduction cases by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children found that in 84 percent of cases, the children escaped would-be abductors through their own actions.

Parents should talk with their children about safety from predators not as a “once and then done” conversation, but as an ongoing dialogue as their child ages, an Iowa State University Extension and Outreach family life program specialist says.

According to Malisa Rader, as children age from adolescence to tweens to teens, the conversation around child safety should evolve.

“Sometimes parents are at a loss of where to start,” Rader said. “We want parents to know that there are tools and support available to help with what children need to know and how to begin, as well as continue, the conversation as they grow.”

ISU Extension and Outreach, in partnership with local agencies, will be offering a panel discussion on Oct. 10 from 6:30-8 p.m. at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Callender. This event is free to the public. Child care and refreshments will be available.

Panel of Professionals

Information will be shared from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s Take 25 campaign. With a focus on prevention, the program encourages parents, guardians, educators, law enforcement and others to spend 25 minutes talking to children about ways to be safer. In the time it takes to watch a sitcom, children can learn age-appropriate strategies to help keep them safe.

Mike Devine of KVFD 1400 AM will facilitate the discussion. Panel members include professionals from a variety of local agencies:

  • Chris Lambert and Jenny Eckert, school counselors, Southeast Webster-Grand Schools
  • Nick Dunbar, police chief, Dayton
  • Elizabeth Stanek, executive director, Linking Families
  • Jami Carroll, consultant, Child Care Resource and Referral
  • Denise Shepard, parent
  • Jon Rollefson, pastor, Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church
  • Malisa Rader, family life specialist, ISU Extension and Outreach

Time for Questions

“Our Saviour’s Lutheran is excited to be the host of this event,” said Pastor Rollefson. “We have a strong desire to reach out to the community in a way that is helpful and healing as we move forward.”

The Webster County Extension program coordinator, Mary Jo Wagner, said there will be time for panel members to share resources and materials and for the audience to ask questions.  

“This has been a grassroots effort from the beginning and the local Extension office has been happy to be a part of it,” Wagner said.

Those wanting to learn more about the event or interested in supporting the program may contact the ISU Extension and Outreach office in Fort Dodge at 515-576-2119.

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