GPS Tracking In Cell Phone Recovers Missing Child

The other day I was reading some news and stumbled upon a story that had a lot to do with what I talk about here – GPS for kids. On January 3, 2009 Natalie Maltais, a 9-year-old, was abducted. Four days later, with the assistance of GPS, a cell phone, and Google Maps little Natalie was found by authorities who returned her safe and sound to her legal guardians.

There were a lot of interesting things about this article that can teach of some pretty significant things about the use of GPS tracking in recovering out missing children. Some of the more interesting quotes from the article include:

Since the end of 2005, cell phone carriers have been required to provide some way to trace calls to 100 meters or less. To accomplish this, global positioning technology has been integrated in cell phone handsets.

and

Officer Neale … contacted the child’s cell phone provider seeking a way to trace the call.

The company provided him with GPS coordinates every time the phone was activated.

If you want to read the full story you can find it at the following url:

http://www.telegram.com/article/20090107/NEWS/901070289/1116

Lessons About Kids and GPS

This story clearly demonstrates a few key elements of GPS use in abduction situations that should be mentioned.  The first is this – teach your child how to use their cell phone properly in an emergency situation like an abduction.  You can do this by telling your child to do the following:

  1. Keep the cell phone in a secure, hidden location at all times.  Letting an abductor know about the location of a phone is a sure fire way to get in taken away or destroyed.  When in danger, the phone will provide a very safe connect to the outside world.  It will let the police and parents know where a child is – possibly saving their life.
  2. Keep the cell phone quiet.  Again, avoiding detection is the most important thing you can do with your cell phone.  If your ringer goes off or your phone beeps every few minutes because you got a voice mail your phone is going to be found out and taken away.  At the first sign of danger, put the phone on mute and secure it.
  3. Keep the cell phone on. This is very important because this is the only way that the police can use the mobile phone to hone in on your location and to set you free.  An “on” phone is key to your continued safety.

In addition to these proactive steps, you might also want to give your child the following advice:

  1. If there is any doubt if it is safe enough to use the phone, don’t use it.  Wait until you are very certain that you will not be discovered.
  2. Call the police before you call anyone else.  They are best equipped to help you get out of your situation safely.

In addition to these tips on how to use a kids GPS phone successfully, I also noticed some interesting information about child abductions in general.  In this instance, the child was taken by someone they knew – their grandmother.  In the majority of child abductions, children are taken by a close relative.

I am not sure about this particular family’s history, but it sounds like the legal guardians of little Natalie Maltais were not her biological parents.  There must have been some sort of row between the guardians and Natalie’s biological grandmother about how Natalie was being raised.  This argument must have then resulted in the kidnapping of the girl to “save her” from her situation.

In the end, what we really learn from this is that GPS for kids only really works if the children themselves are educated in the use of their tracking devices.  Without the child being an active participant devices can be easily discovered and destroyed by unscrupulous individuals.  It doesn’t matter if it is a GPS tracking watch, a kids GPS phone, or a child locator – if the device is found it is going to be taken.

If you are looking for what program you can download for free onto your child’s cell phone then please take a look at some of the free cell phone trackers that are available for a wide range of mobile phones. There are new apps coming out all the time that could be leveraged to keep your family safe with something as terrible as this were to ever happen to you. Just remember that keeping safe is the number one priority for you child in this situation so keeping the phone on and hidden as long as possible is key.

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