With the takeover of technology, instant messaging and social media, parents have to be more cautious than ever about who communicates with their children.

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed May 25th as National Missing Children's Day. The Department of Justice annually commemorates the proclamation by honoring law enforcement officials who work tirelessly to protect the nation's children from predators.

Cpl. Paul Mouton Laf. Police PIO KPEL photo 020713
Cpl. Paul Mouton, KPEL

Lafayette Police spokesman Cpl. Paul Mouton joined Rob and Bernie on Acadiana's Morning News to share tips on how to avoid, and address, stranger danger in your neighborhood.

If you see a suspicious person or vehicle around any children, call law enforcement immediately. Mouton said expediency is very important.

If it's suspicious; if it doesn't look right; if it doesn't feel right, you should have already called police, Mouton said. "You shouldn't be calling your neighbor. You shouldn't be calling your husband or your wife. That information needs to be passed on to law enforcement as soon as possible.

The first step is, as parents, we should teach our children the signs of identifying suspicious, unsafe situations. The Web site www.mychildsafety.net offers the following tips to teach children how to avoid stranger danger.

  • Know your name, address, and phone number.
  • Use the buddy system – avoid walking anywhere alone.
  • Trust your instincts – if you feel you are being followed or something is not right, seek help immediately.
  • If a stranger approaches you, you do not have to speak to him or her. Never approach a stranger in a motor vehicle. Just keep walking. Do not accept candy or any other items from a stranger. Never walk off with a stranger no matter what he or she tells you.
  • If someone is following you try to remember the license plate of his or her vehicle and immediately tell a trusted adult.
  • If a stranger grabs you, do everything you can to stop him or her from pulling you away or dragging you into his or her car. Drop to the ground, kick, hit, bite, and scream. Do whatever it takes to attract the attention of others who can help you. If someone is dragging you away, scream, "this is not my dad," or "this is not my mom."

In the frightful case that a child is reported missing, law enforcement uses tools such as AMBER alerts to find missing children in the quickest ways possible.

Mouton said parents, today, are having "real conversations" with their kids about being aware of their surroundings, which represents the first line of defense when protecting our communities' youths.