Stephen Fern was frightened a few years back when he thought he had lost his child FOREVER. That fright was turned into a positive research for a solution and Lost Kidz app was born, Stephen can be found tweeting at @breakfastfor8 you can find more information on the Lost Kidz website and a Like on the Facebook page will keep you up to date on the app. Over to Stephen…
Nothing can prepare us for that heart stopping moment when we realise that we have lost our child; the wave of nausea, pumped by the surge of adrenaline as the primeval instinct to protect our children kicks into gear.
My worst experience as a father came about when holidaying in France; shopping with four children, we both thought that the other had our eldest boy – who was four at the time. When we came together in the centre of the village, he was with neither of us..and it had been 20 minutes since we had last seen him. The feeling of utter panic and the instant recognition of powerlessness was overwhelming. With three others to look after, my wife stayed put and I ran, chasing through the busy streets, frantically scanning in every direction – and no sign of him.
The story has a happy ending. He had been seen by a group of teenage schoolchildren and he had started to re-trace his steps to where we had parked the car; when I saw him, the sense of relief was indescribable; suffice to say I am in tears now as I write, which reflects the deep rooted impact that moment had on me.
Many years later, I was watching a documentary about the abduction of a girl in the United States called Jaycee Lee Delgado; snatched in view of her step father only to be found 17 years later -the prisoner of a sick pedophile; and I couldn’t help thinking about how technology could have saved that child – if only her step father had a mobile phone, he could have alerted the police instantly.
I sat up all night thinking about the abductions and murders that have haunted our generation. Over 30 people stopped James Bulgers abductors to ask what they were doing with the little boy – but no one knew he was missing. Witnesses with stories about a young girl being carried off near the McCanns apartment didn’t come forward for days as news of the missing Maddie began to filter out through the media; information that was too late to act upon.
So I resolved to do something about it; to see if we could create an App that would allow parents to take control of the situation the moment that they realise their child is missing. A personal amber alert that issues exactly the same information that will be released by the police through the media – but quicker….and when you research the statistics, it becomes clear that every second counts. In 75% of child abductions, the child is murdered within the first 3 hours. That the greatest threat to your child is accidental harm through drowning or being hit by a car within a mile of where the child was reported missing.
After nearly 1000 hours of development, the Lost Kidz App was born. Simply by sending an alert with a photo and details of your child’s last known whereabouts to everyone who has the App on their smartphones in the vicinity, you are creating a technological version of what society has done for years; asking the community to help in the search. It’s like a neighbourhood watch for your children that follows you wherever you go – whether at home, in the shopping centre, or even on vacation in some foreign land. Anyone who sees your child, or has information that may help to find them, can make instant contact with you through the App.
There are many dangers to our children if they become separated but by far the greatest anxiety is caused by the threat of a predator. Without an alert, a predator in the area who sees a lone child can act unchallenged. The App alert doesn’t change the fact that a predator may be in the area, nor help them find the lone child more easily – but it does mean that they know that hundreds and possibly thousands of concerned people will be looking, watching every moving, scanning the area for the child. The chance of being the first to see your child is now 10,000 to 1 against (rather than a 50:50 race between the parent and the predator). The chance of approaching the child, let alone taking the child away, without being seen or challenged is a huge deterrent..and as every App user is registered, there is an even greater level of security when compared to an open public announcement.
The Lost Kidz App in effect creates a white hot safety zone around your child, deterring predators, and enlisting the eyes and ears of every caring citizen in your community to help prevent your child from suffering deliberate or accidental harm.
If 50 million people can share the thrill of ‘Draw Something’ in a matter of weeks, just think how quickly we can build communities of people who get together for something more important than anything else? Making the world a safer place for all of our children.
With global media attention since the launch of the App, we are well on our way to creating safer communities around the world. By writing about our experiences and sharing the Lost Kidz App story, we can all help to make this work.
As Victor Hugo once said “There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world: and that is an idea whose time has come”