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Child protection kit a must for parents, local rep says

November 04, 2002|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

KEARNEYSVILLE, W.Va. - It's been about 15 years since it happened, but David Kolbfleisch vividly remembers the day his son did not come home as scheduled.

Kolbfleisch's son had a five-minute bus ride to his parents' home in Libertytown, Md., but he did not show up that day.

Kolbfleisch called his son's school.

No one there knew what happened.

He called the school system's transportation department.

No one there knew what happened.

Kolbfleisch finally made contact with the bus driver.

He learned his son had fallen asleep on the bus and no one had realized the boy was there until the bus route was over about two hours later.

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The Kearneysville, W.Va., man was lucky, but not all parents are.

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that about 1.5 million children turn up missing every year, according to Child Shield U.S.A., which produces a safety packet for parents that gives police immediate access to information about a child if he or she is missing.

"A lot are found. A lot are found dead," said Kolbfleisch, who has been named a new independent agent for Child Shield U.S.A.

For $39.95, Kolbfleisch can supply parents with a Child Shield U.S.A. child protection packet.

Parents who buy the package are instructed on how to make a five-minute video of their child, Kolbfleisch said. Parents can make the video or Child Shield representatives can assist them, he said.

Parents are encouraged to videotape birthmarks, scars or other characteristics that would make it easier for officials to identify their child, Kolbfleisch said. Parents are also encouraged to record unique mannerisms of their children, such as the way they say things, Kolbfleisch said.

If a child turns up missing, the videotape, along with other information - such as posters of the child - can be immediately turned over to police to help them with their investigation, Kolbfleisch said.

The information can be handed over to numerous agencies who may be involved in the case, Kolbfleisch said.

"We can do 100 videos an hour," he said.

The Child Shield packet also provides parents with a checklist to follow if their child disappears, Kolbfleisch said.

That is important because parents often panic after their child disappears, often resorting to a string of erratic behavior that only wastes time, he said.

The Child Shield packet also includes a poster of the "Seven Rules of Safety" that parents are instructed to review with their children regularly. For small children, Child Shield lessons are covered in a coloring book. Coloring the scenes and reviewing the information with parents helps young children better internalize the information, Kolbfleisch said.

Although West Virginia State Police Sgt. Carl Mahood said he is not familiar with Child Shield U.S.A., he said it appears it would be useful to police.

The more information police have in a missing child case, the better, Mahood said.

Kolbfleisch is a self-employed marketing agent who sells services such as a stop-smoking program.

He can be reached for Child Shield information at 304-262-6342 or 1-800-618-2136.

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