On Wednesday, Feb. 8, every parent’s nightmare occurred in a Bremen, GA Walmart store. Luckily, it was short-lived.
A convicted felon on parole for manslaughter attempted to abduct a girl and carry her out of the store. According to the girl, the man grabbed her and tried to cover her mouth. She remembered her “stranger danger training” and began screaming and kicking until he ultimately dropped her. It was all caught on tape, and thanks to the assistance of Walmart employees and quick action by police, the felon was arrested a short time later. Walmart is one of thousands of retailers who have a special alert program to react swiftly to actions like these.
Thousands of children are abducted each year, according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), which offers free tools on their website for businesses and parents to address child safety at home, school and public places. For retailers, stores and other public places, NCMEC has created the Code Adam program in memory of 6-year old Adam Walsh. Offered free of charge, the Code Adam program is one of the country’s largest child-safety programs. It provides recommendations for how to immediately, effectively and efficiently respond during an incident - just like the one in Bremen, GA.
Since the creation of Code Adam in 1994, the program has been credited with being a successful and preventative tool against child abduction in more than 22,000 stores across the county, including Walmart, Kmart, Home Depot, Gap, Toys “R” Us, Hannaford Brothers Corp., Shop & Save Supermarkets, Shop Rite Supermarkets, Old Navy, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Burlington Coat Factory outlets. See a partial list of retailers and other public facilities that have implemented the Code Adam program.
May 25 is National Missing Children’s Day. The disappearance and eventual homicide of 29 Atlanta children between 1979 and 1981 exposed a fundamental flaw in the system – there was no coordinated effort between federal, state and local law enforcement, no national response system in place, and no central resource to help searching families. In 1983, in President Ronald Reagan proclaimed May 25 National Missing Children’s Day to serve as a reminder for all parents, guardians, role models and even retailers to make child safety a priority.