Annual program aims to educate, protect local youth - The Explorer: News

Annual program aims to educate, protect local youth

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Posted: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 4:00 am

On May 30, numerous parents lined up at Foothills Mall to have their child photographed and fingerprinted, after which a Pima Regional Bomb Squad robot chased the children around the mall.

Every year, around May 25, which is Missing Children’s Day, the United States Attorney’s Office puts together an event where safety material is given to parents while children can learn and interact with officials from numerous law enforcement agencies.

Assistant United States Attorney Carin Duryée says the Take 25 event aims to educate parents to take 25 minutes to talk to their children about safety to prevent them from becoming a missing child. She added that the 25 minutes doesn’t have to be in one sitting, but wants parents to know they should have the open dialog with their child about predators and child abductions.

At the Foothills Mall event, a giant circle was formed and lined with employees from the U.S. Marshalls, Pima County Regional Bomb Squad, FBI, Tucson Police Department, the Arizona Children’s Advocacy Center, Department of Homeland Security, along with the Arizona Attorney Generals Office. Together they all had one goal that they hoped to achieve.

“In a perfect world, this event inspires parents to talk to their children about online and offline safety,” Duryée said. “And children receive information, whether it’s through their parent or guardian, or here, that empowers them to help protect themselves and to feel comfortable saying no to adults.”

Along with information and material being given to parents, the program also took information, which included a photo and fingerprints of children, which were then given to the parents. In the event that a child goes missing, a parent can give that information to law enforcement agencies, which can then be quickly broadcast through the Amber Alert system.

Traci Reid, who was waiting with her two children to have their information gathered, feels that even though a parent never wants to use it, it is good to have.

“I know how important it is and it’s scary out there,” Reid said, “Kids disappear all the time and I feel it’s really important to be able to identify them.”

Having the information on hand, Reid said, makes it easier and faster to be able to get a child’s information out, which in turn lets the public see the child quicker, which hopefully turns into a quicker return.

For those who could not attend the event, but would like more information, the Arizona Attorney General’s Community and Education Division, which is a crime prevention and educational program, offers free educational presentations. The group also provides written and web-based resources through its website, www.azag.gov/ResourceCenter.

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