A helpful guideline for your family.


These days the words MISSING and ABDUCTION are used so frequently that they have almost lost their ability to alarm people. What is Videotrace?

Videotrace is a digital video identification service provided by AVC that was created by Len Rushton and Trifon Haitas to aid in the search for missing children and the elderly suffering from Alzheimer’s.

No-one likes to imagine the abduction of their child or the disappearance of their elderly family member who suffers from Alzheimer’s, but increasingly families are facing this tragedy and frequently they have little or no reliable material to help in the search.

Videotrace offers an audiovisual portrait that includes broadcast quality digital video. This detailed digital documentation along with fingerprints and a lock of hair, will better assist police and professional investigators to track down and identify abducted or missing children.

They know that the first few hours are vital in the search for a missing child. Take a look at today's newspaper, any one will do. Over two million children go missing in North America each year and over sixty thousand in Canada.

For your own feeling of security contact Videotrace today and make arrangements for your child's audiovisual portrait.

Preparing the video can be fun for children. We make our subjects feel at home with toys, balloons and easy chatter while recording the video.

Len Rushton and Trifon Haitas have demonstrated their Videotrace service on CITY-TV, and other television shows as well as news releases appearing in various city newspapers.

Note: This service is especially recommended for people who have elderly family members who suffer from Alzheimer’s, or who have the cause of fear that an estranged parent may attempt an abduction. 

For more information phone, email or write to AVC now.

You have made a wise move. You have taken steps to ensure the security of your family and to provide yourself with the resources you need, should an emergency occur. Just like any other kind of insurance, it's a safeguard you hope you'll never have to use.

Now that you have good photographs, a high quality videotape, and a detailed data sheet, all of which describe your child and or elderly family member in detail, there are just a few more steps you can take to add to the effectiveness of these records:

RIGHT NOW..... develop a plan of action to be implemented instantly should your child or elder go missing. Sit down and think out what ought to be done. If you live in a rural community, you would probably concentrate on organizing a search patrol. In an urban setting, the media might be your most effective allies. Know where your Videotrace documentation is and augment it as suggested below. Update your Videotrace information frequently. An update every six months for children under six and annually for older children.

* Cut a small lock of your child's/elder’s hair, place it in a clear plastic bag and keep it with your Videotrace package.

* Write down the name, address and telephone number of your child's/elder’s dentist. If possible obtain a copy of your child's/elder’s dental records. File this with your data sheet , and update as necessary.

* Write down the name address and telephone number of your child's/elder’s doctor. File this with your data sheet, and update as necessary.

* Make a list with all your child's/elder’s friends and relatives, complete with name, address and phone number for each. Put it with your data sheet. Update it as necessary. Make photocopies for immediate use should an emergency arise.

* Write a description of any new and permanent distinguishing mark your child/elder acquires. File with your data sheet. You may decide to call Videotrace to update the videography of your child/elder, depending on the magnitude of the change. A new, permanent scar, for example, may need only an instant photo.

* Sit down and carefully read everything contained in the package.

CHILD FIND, BLOCK PARENTS, and the YORK REGIONAL POLICE FORCE COMMUNITY SERVICES BUREAU have contributed to this wealth of information.

* From the dvd section of your library, borrow dvd's on Street proofing, Child Security, Child Molestation, Child abuse, Sexual abuse etc., Better Safe Than Sorry, and Better Safe Than Sorry II are two such films (Vitascope) narrated by two children.

You may also find these video's useful:

Children Take Care / Street Proofing / Strong Kids, Safe Kids (with Henry Winkler)

The last of these films may be found in your local video store, for sale or rental.

Also, call Child Find, and inquire about their library of related materials.

* Tell your sitter where your Videotrace documents are kept. If you'll be away for a considerable length of time or if you are leaving your child/elder with relatives at another address, you may want to give them your tapes, photographs and all other investigative aids for the period of your absence.

* Don't shy away from TV and newspaper coverage of missing children and elderly. There may be something to be learned from each of these events. It is better to replace your fear of occurrences such as these by a confidence in your ability to protect your child/elder.


* If your child/elder is missing, call the police as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the colder the trail becomes.

* Check the child's room. Is anything missing? Is the piggy bank still full? Check your wallet. If nothing is missing you can usually rule out a runaway.

* Think back to the last time you observed any stress in your child's life. Has he or she been behaving normally these last few days? Talk to your child's teacher and school friends. Generally speaking, the younger the child, the faster you must act.

* Make sure someone stays at home in case the child/elder returns or there are phone calls (from the police or Block Parents for example).

* Stay off the phone. Leave your own free for incoming calls and use a mobile or neighbour's phone to call your child's/elder’s friends and relatives.

* Immediately use all documentation and investigative aids at your disposal IE. photographs, videotapes, fingerprints etc.

* Move your search to the school if everything has been covered at home. You'll have ready access to phones and phone numbers there. Take copies of your child's photograph with you.

* Start the search. Act without delay.

* Call your friends. Get them to use their imagination in suggesting locations to search. Let them assist you with all the little things that help to boost the spirit of the search party, such as keeping the coffee pot full. You may also need someone to organize a car pool for the volunteers. Draw volunteers from as many sources as possible. Try your school's Parent Teacher Association, service clubs, etc.

* Phone all the radio stations in your area. Have your child's/elder’s videotape and picture delivered to any television station and newspaper which will accept it.

* Call Child Find or the Alzheimer’s Society and any other organization that can help.

* Contact someone who uses a Citizen's Band radio and give the operator as much accurate information as you can. Get as many pairs of eyes as possible looking for your child/elder.

* Call the taxi services. Give the dispatcher a description of your child. All taxis have radios. You may also consider distributing a great number of small pictures of your child/elder.

* Organize a foot patrol if the police have not already done so. Post a map on a board so no time is wasted searching the same area more than once initially.

* Ask for help. Friends, relatives and total strangers will rally to your aid – accept their help. Select one person to take charge of the search if you find it difficult to control your panic.

* Give the police your full co-operation. Provide all the information you are asked for. Try not to feel insulted or alarmed if police investigators interview friends, relatives, former boyfriends etc.


* Ask the school to double check, then call the police.

* If you are separated from your spouse, phone and find out where he or she is. Abduction from a parent who is not currently the child's custodian may be a concern, but don't forget that in most cases it is the other parent's prerogative to know what is happening. If you were not the child's custodian at a time such as this, you would want to be told about this emergency as soon as possible.

* Find out if there are any other children missing from the school. Is there a possibility that one or several classes are out on a field trip? Is the weather nice? It is a fact that most children will not play hooky during a rainstorm.

* Call the parents of other children who have not been accounted for at school. If your child's class has not gone on a trip, then perhaps he or she is with a friend. Working with other parents makes it easier to track children down.

* Stay off your home phone unless you have a "call waiting" system. Your child may be trying to get through to you.

* Get a friend to call all your child's friends, (keep your own phone free).

* Don't leave your house empty. You will want someone to sit by the phone for you. Before you leave the house for any reason at all, make a thorough search - garage, attic, everywhere.


What is a stranger? Kids often think strangers are people, usually male, who look strange or act in a strange manner. When you ask young children what a stranger is, most of them will tell you he is an old man with a beard an shabby cloths. Actually, the "stranger" can be kind and generous, offer gifts and engage a child in friendly conversation, to avoid being identified with that "stranger" you warned your child about. As parents, we sometimes help the would-be abductor by putting the child's name on the outside of his clothing, on a jacket, a team uniform or hat. Children need to be told that strangers who try to impress kids with charm may actually want to win them over, and to this end will employ coercion, manipulation, flattery, bribery, guilt or fear. He's off to a good start if he can read a child's name on his jacket.

Street proofing is a preventative measure - an essential element in parenting and therefore requires the same kind of work, thought and care. In order to help children to assess and avoid a dangerous situation, we can teach them three STRANGER questions:

1. Do I have a YES feeling or a NO feeling towards this person?

2. Does a grown-up that I trust know where I am right know?

3. Can I get help right now if I need it?

A stranger may tell your child that she must not tell anybody anything because "it's a secret", and if she does tell anyone, bad things will happen to her or her parents. But this is the kind of secret that must be told. You can teach your child to remember these three words:






Teach children to trust their instincts and to be alert to their surroundings. If they do not feel right about a situation, they should call the police or approach a responsible person such as a Block Parent or a store clerk.

STREET PROOFING gives children the ability to recognize potentially dangerous situations and equips them with a way to react whenever they feel threatened.

YELL FIRE! If your child is grabbed by a stranger who won't let go, teach her to yell "FIRE!" It's likely to get more immediate attention than "help" which is heard often on school playgrounds. If the stranger still won't let go, teach your child he should kick as hard as possible, aiming at the shinbone, between the ankle and the kneecap.

LIES MY PARENTS TAUGHT ME ~ Children should be told that there are times when it is okay not to tell the truth. For example, if your child is home alone and answers the phone or the door, she should never say there's nobody else in the house. Instead, she should say that mommy is in the shower, or that daddy is in the back yard. If answering the phone, it's a good idea to tell the stranger to leave his or her phone number so that daddy can call back.

Experts warn that children who respect authority without question may respond to any adult's demands, despite their own parents warning not to talk to strangers. A study of first graders showed that when asked by a stranger to get into a car, 85% believed it was okay to do so and climbed in. Teaching abduction prevention skills is just as important as teaching water, traffic and bicycle skills and should be reinforced just as often. Once is not enough – children forget.


* Do you know where they are going?

* Do you know what time they will be back?

* Are they carrying identification?

* Do they know where you will be the whole time they are out?

* Do they know how to get in touch with you while they are out?

* Are they able to reverse the charges when making a phone call?

* Have you explained the BLOCK PARENT program to them? Do they know the BLOCK PARENT symbol?

* Do your children know how to approach someone in authority if they get lost or separated from you


* Does your child know what to do when lost?

* Have you ever discussed abnormal behaviour with your child?

* Have you ever taken a walking tour of your neighbourhood? Do you know of abandoned buildings, vacant lots, unlighted walkways, creeks subject to flooding?

* Do you know your child's favourite play spaces?

* Does your child know when to reject adult authority?

* Does your child carry personal medical information?

* Can you account for your child's whereabouts hourly?

* Do you have an up-to-date list of names, addresses and phone numbers of all of your child's friends?

* Does your child know how and where to reach you at any time?

* Can you reach your child at any time?

* Does your child know whom to approach for help?

* Do you know exactly how much money your child has with him?

* Are you familiar with the route your child takes to school? Have you walked this route yourself?


* Teach your child the facts about abduction early.

* Know your area parks, vacant lots and construction areas.

* Define a stranger. Children often think a stranger is just someone they have never seen before (the same person seen two or three times is no longer a stranger to some children). Tell your children that Block Parents are people they can trust and rely on when they need help. Walk your children through your neighbourhood and point out all the Block Parent's homes. Tell them that most adults will not harm kids.

* Strangers may try and use sympathy (your mother is hurt and she sent me to take you to her). Have a secret password between you and your child, and tell her that if you ever send someone to get her, then you'll tell that person the password. If your child then asks that person for the password and the adult cannot tell her, she should yell: "you're a stranger" and run for help.

* Teach your child his full name, address and phone number.

* Teach your child how to use the telephone, how to use a pay phone, how to call collect and how to call the operator.

* Never leave your child unattended in a car or shopping cart.

* Know your child's route to school, any friends and play areas.

* If our children are going door to door selling or collecting items, accompany them or insure that they travel in groups of two or three.

* Be cautious and thorough when choosing a baby sitter. Check references. Know the people who are responsible for your child's care. Also, make sure you know the people your own child may be baby-sitting for.

* If your children's friends are staying at your house, for an evening or overnight, call their parents and double check that they know where their children are, and that permission has been granted.

* Instruct baby sitters or friends caring for your child that your child must not be left with anyone but the designated bay sitter. Tell them not to transfer the responsibility to anyone else.

* Children alone at home should never open the door to strangers. Install a peephole at child eye level. Be sure doors and windows are secured with good locks.

* Children alone at home should never volunteer information to a stranger over the phone. Teach them to say that the parent is home but cannot come to the phone, and to leave a message.

* Post emergency phone numbers near your telephone. These should include Police, Fire Department, friends, neighbours, relatives and your own work number.

* Don't display your child's name on lunch box or clothing. A stranger calling your child by name doesn't seem like a stranger any more.

* Never tell your children that if they don't behave, a policeman will put them in jail. Instead of approaching a policeman when they're lost or looking for help, they may run away instead. Tell them that the police officer is their friend and helper.


Getting lost, and losing a child in a public place are traumatic for both child and parent. This is how lost children often react:

THE RUNNERS: When these children find they've been separated from mom and dad, they begin to run.

THE CRIERS: These children remain glued to the spot and just cry or wail. The volume of tears and the noise level increase when the child is offered help.

THE HIDERS: In department stores, these children may be found among the long dresses or crouched low in corners.

THE WANDERERS: These are usually fairly confident children. If they cannot be found in a short period of time, they often assume one of the above patterns of behaviour.


Busy shopping centres present special challenges in keeping track of active youngsters. Talk about this while you are actually in a mall with your child, because of course it is no use trying to ask your child to imagine the local mall while you are talking to him in your own home. Begin this conversation as you enter the mall and continue in stops and starts until you have finished shopping. Don't hesitate to kneel down to your child's eye level and take a good look around. Everything looks very different, doesn't it? Ask your child "if you and I were separated (don't use the word "lost") right here, right now, who would you go to for help? If you have warned your child not to talk to strangers, you may be in a quandary, so now is the best time to identify the best people to approach.

Here are some of the people you may want to point out:

MOTHERS WITH SMALL CHILDREN: Mothers are usually extraordinarily protective of lost children, and they tend to stay with the child, surrendering him only to the parent.

STORE PERSONNEL: Show your child a cash area and a cashier. Show her what a staff ID button or tag looks like, and how to recognize the identifying store smock or uniform.

OLDER WOMEN: Grannies are a good resource, and least likely to harm a child.

POLICE OFFICERS: An excellent resource, but seldom on hand in these situations.

Unfortunately also, small children, especially those under the age of seven, rarely differentiate between different kinds of uniforms. Ask a five year old to point out every policeman he sees. Make this a game, and give a small reward for each police officer correctly identified. Parking tag officers, bus drivers and doormen (all potential sources of help to a lost child), limousine drivers and porters - in fact men wearing any kind of hat - may at first be confused with police officers.

Police officers who are not very busy are usually happy to show their badges and identification. Never threaten children that if they are bad, a policeman will come along and put them in jail. A child would then never seek help from that type of person. Children must understand that police officers are there to help them and to protect them from harm.


Discuss with your child what action is to be taken if you are separated from one another on the street.

Tell your child:

* Stop. Take a good look around, but don't cross any streets.

* If you can't see me, go into a store and ask the person behind the counter to call the police. Don't accept help from a stranger.

* Watch out for police or parking tag officers and go to him or her, but don't go looking for such a person.

* Tell a taxi driver, if you see one, that you are lost. Taxi drivers have radios and can call the police. But don't get into a cab. Stand back and wait while the taxi driver calls the police. This is not of course the tactic of choice.


The very idea of loosing a child at a sports arena, an exhibition, or inside a circus tent is disturbing to say the least. What can be done before such an outgoing begins?

Here are some suggestions:

Put very small children in harnesses. Take older children to a designated meeting place and tell them "this is where we meet if we are separated". Tell children who are too old to be put in a harness and too young to find a meeting place that they should seek help from a mother with small children. Teach your child to be the initiator ~ to ask for help.

If you are a member of a block parents' or similar volunteer organization, why not suggest that your group initiate the placement of booths at fairgrounds, etc., and issue flyers to promote the programme? Volunteers should give their permission to have their credentials checked by the police, if this has not already been done, and the entertainment company management should be approached with your proposal.


At some point between the age of six and ten, children have a right to go to the men's and ladies' washroom alone. It is a rite of passage for little boys and little girls.

These are things you should remember:

Do not allow your child to go into any washroom with two exits. Teach your child how the locks work on washroom cubicles. Some children panic if they cannot open a washroom door, but most will readily crawl under it.

Little girls out with dad are in a low risk situation. Statistics show that women are least likely to molest. Fathers tend to ask women for help, but this is usually unnecessary. If your daughter is too old to go into the men's washroom have her follow the rules we apply to little boys, - give her a time limit, and tell her to call out if she is in trouble. If you don't want your child to talk to anyone, tell him to skip the hand washing. This is when a conversation is most likely to get started. It's a good idea to forget the hand washing for little kids particularly, because taps may be difficult to reach, and there is danger of scalding. They may turn the wrong tap on, then not be ready to turn it off quickly. Campground, subway and street washrooms should not be used by children alone. Encourage them to "buddy up" with a friend or friends.

THE WASHROOM IS A PLACE WHERE PARENTAL RULES MUST BE ENFORCED NOTE: There is no law, which states that a man cannot take his small daughter into a man's washroom, and similarly, prohibits a woman from taking her small son into a woman's washroom.


* At some time during their lives, about one in two Canadian females and one in three males where victims of one or more sexual acts. These acts include indecent exposure, being sexually threatened, being touched on a sexual part of the body, attempts to assault or sexual assault.

* About four in five of these unwanted sexual acts had been first committed against these persons when they where children or youths.

* Four in one hundred of young females have been raped.

* Two in one hundred young persons have experienced attempts or acts of unwanted anal penetration by a penis or by means of an object or fingers.

* Acts of exposure constitute the largest single category of sexual offences committed against children.

* Three in five sexually abused children have been threatened or physically coerced by their assailants. Young victims are as likely to be threatened or forced to engage in sexual acts by persons relatively close in age as by older persons.

* Few young victims where physically injured; substantially more suffered emotional harm.

* About one in four assailants is a family member or a person in a position of trust. About half are friends or acquaintances and about one in six is a stranger.

* Virtually all assailants are male - one in a hundred is female.

* A majority of victims or their families do not seek assistance from public services. When they do they go most often to the police and to doctors.

* Over two in five of all sexual assault homicides are committed against children fifteen and younger. Children are the victims of three in four convicted sexual offenders found to be dangerous at the time the sexual offenders were being sentenced by courts.


A stranger is a person you do not know. It can be a man or a woman, young or old, fat or thin, short or tall, pretty or ugly, rich or poor, black, white or brown.

Nearly all people are nice and like children, but sometimes there are people who are sick in their minds, and want to hurt you. People you know - people like your brothers and sisters, and your mother and father's friends, your grandparents and your teachers - are okay. But it is a good idea to avoid people you do not know, because you cannot tell what they are like.

Never get into a car with a stranger. The stranger may not take you home but to somewhere you don't know. Never ever hitchhike.

When asked for directions, answer politely, but stand well back from the car. If you don't know the answer, say so and walk away.

Never take candy, presents or money from a stranger. They might be very kind, but on the other hand they could be trying to trick you into making friends.

Do not go into any stranger's house and never let any strangers into your house when you are by yourself. Ask your parents what you should tell a stranger who knocks at the door when they are out. Never let anyone in unless you know him or her.

If you are going to be left by yourself, ask your parents for the phone number of a friend who lives nearby, so you can call them if you get frightened or need help.

If there is a baby sitter with you, ask the sitter to talk to the stranger.

If a stranger stops you in the street and tries to touch you, take you away or frighten you, the best thing to do is run away. If the stranger holds on to you, then scream and wave your arms so someone will come to help you. Yell "FIRE" to get immediate attention.

If you have to go somewhere by yourself, it may be a good idea to ask your parents to buy you a whistle to wear around your neck so you can blow it if you need to attract attention.

It is very important to try and walk home with other children, because strangers do not usually bother people in groups. Never play in lonely parks or buildings, and try not to dawdle.

If a stranger bothers you, try very hard to remember what their face looks like, what clothes they are wearing, if they have glasses, and what their voice sounds like.

Sometimes, there is no one around to help, so if there is a stranger who is bothering you, run to a house, or phone the police. Dial 911 from a phone booth - it is FREE.

If a stranger has a car, try to remember the colour, the license plate number and the make (if you know about makes of cars). If you do not have any paper or pencil with you, try to scratch the number on the pavement with a stone, or in the dust with a stick.

If you have a pen but no paper, write it on your hand. The police have a much better chance of finding the person if they have the number of the car.

When you run away from a stranger, or say no to a ride or a present, always tell your parents and ask them to tell the police, just in case the person is dangerous.

Another child may not be as lucky as you.

The police are there to help you, and you would never get into any trouble by telling them about people who bother you. Also tell a movie theatre manager or a bus driver, if anyone bothers you.

Do not go with people who say they were sent by your mother or father to pick you up, unless you know them. Always ask your parents how you should get home, and make sure you know what the person looks like if your parent has arranged for someone else to pick you up.

If you don't understand any of these rules, ask your parents to explain them to you.


* Don't go with anyone, or ride in anyone's car unless you have your parent’s permission.

* Never talk with a stranger, walk with a stranger, or get into a stranger's car with him.

* Travel in pairs or groups.

* Don't take shortcuts to school or the store. Stick to the same route.

* If confronted by a stranger, yell and run the other way. After getting away, tell someone - parents, teacher, Block Parent, police or someone you know and trust.

* Try to remember what the stranger looked like, what he wore, and what his car looked like, but don't hang around putting yourself in further danger.

* Don't get too close to a car, if a stranger is asking you a question.

* Block Parents are SAFE STRANGERS. If you need help, or are being bothered by a stranger, a Block Parent will help.

* Phone your parents when you are at a friend's house, and call again when you are leaving for home.

* Report any suspicious incidents to your parents, the police, Block Parents, or a teacher.

* Never hitchhike.



Emergency numbers: 911 - Fire department - Police

Also include on MSG Centre:

*Dr.’s #, Grandma's #, Aunt and Uncle’s #, School #

*Neighbourhood map



Here's a project that the kids make themselves, with a little help from parents. Make a map of the area showing parks, community centre, school, plaza, swimming pool, library and friend's houses. On the finished map, put a list of phone numbers, including emergency numbers. Select a prominent place for the map and designate this same location as your message centre - notes and numbers about where you are and when you will be back. Encourage your children to check the board regularly and to leave their own messages about where they are and when they'll be home.






Child's friends:

These excellent services exist for your family's additional security.



Any responsible citizen aged, 16 or over who:

* Cares about the well being of everyone, especially children.

* Has been screened by the police force.

* Is willing to provide help at any time.

If you want your house to become a Block Parent home, every person over the age of 16 years must be included on the application and must sign the applications which are submitted in duplicate.

The applicants are then screened by the police force and if approved they are then recommended to the Block Parent committee of their area.

If anyone in the residence is not recommended, that person is advised directly by the police force.

The Block Parent sign is an indication to everyone that children in the community have been taught how to deal with strangers, and that the community is alert to potential danger.

VIDEOTRACE ~ An investigative aid provided by Trifon Haitas.

Videotrace provides an audiovisual portrait of your child. The full package includes a broadcast-quality videotape, studio-quality still photographs, child identification record, and child safety information. Videotrace, founded in 1990, is a private and confidential service created by the late Len Rushton, a child photographer and Seneca College professor, and Trifon Haitas, a Documentarian and Videojournalist.

Videotrace is insurance you hope you'll never need.

CHILD FIND ONTARIO INC. is a non-profit, volunteer organization, but thanks to community service groups, local businesses and private donors, it now has a furnished dwelling in York Region from which it offers services to parent’s children and schools.

As part of Child find Canada, which as a primary interest is locating missing children, Child Find Ontario Inc. has something more to offer, and has directed it's services as:

* KIDCHECKS - fingerprinting and photography.

* PUBLIC AWARENESS - with the use of films and research-verbal presentations.

* PUBLICITY - through the use of newspaper, cable TV and the distribution of flyer portfolios and posters of missing children.

A Neighbourhood Watch sign is posted in the approaches to an organized area as a deterrent to would-be criminals.
The Neighbourhood Watch Program is a formal network of concerned citizens who communicate with their neighbours and the police regarding crime related problems.

* STREET PROOFING - Child Find Ontario Inc. is starting to be recognized by school boards, churches and nursery schools and has achieved it's most valuable role, that of prevention - the best tool we can give our children. The program covers ages 3 - 14.

* Child Find Ontario Inc. is accumulating a library of materials available for private use.



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