It's every parent's nightmare: A 6-year-old boy is at the movies. He goes alone to the bathroom, where a man abducts him, takes him screaming and crying from the theater, saying, "I told you if you acted up, I would take you home!" He puts the child in a car, and drives away from the theater. Luckily, this true story had a happy ending. But analysis of recent FBI reports shows an alarming trend: Children are at the highest risk of being the victim of a violent crime in the four hours following the end of the school day. It's simple deduction when you look at the numbers: the growth of single parenthood (up from 20 percent in 1980 to 27 percent in 1999) and increases in children from birth to third grade receiving regular care from someone other than their parents (up from 51 percent in 1995 to 54 percent in 1999). More than ever before, the numbers are telling us that our kids are away from our watchful eyes for great portions of their young lives.
One of the main facets of parenting has always been safety, and we live in a world where it's a top concern. Take it down the parental fear meter to everyday safety issues: latchkey kids alone for a few hours before parents get home, toddlers wandering off in the mall, trashy television, teens out with friends on Saturday night, safety on the Internet. American Way combed the technology marketplace, and we found some unique new tools to help parents parent.
Babies in hospitals aren't the only ones who need protecting. Parents who worry about their children wandering off can snap on the Stay-Close Alarm. Attach a receiver to your belt and a transmitter to the child, and an alarm will sound if the child moves more than the set distance away. Ideal for toddlers who like to hide in department store clothing racks. $19.85; www.magellans.com