GPS Trackers For Children
There are four main scenarios where a GPS Tracker is hugely helpful in safeguarding children:
- The child has autism and/or ADHD and may be at risk of running away or becoming lost
- The child may suffer from anxiety or be at risk of panic attacks
- The risk of abduction or kidnap
- General safeguarding if for example the child is travelling, staying with other family members or friends
A GPS Tracker can help locate your child if wandering too far from home
"It works a treat for when my 9 year old son is out and about"Paul
Tracking children with autism and/or ADHD who may be at risk of wandering
Wandering behaviour in children with autism is a situation that's far more common than most people realise. It poses an obvious huge danger to children who aren't quickly found, and causes a great stress on the family. It's a situation that many parents are unfortunately well acquainted with.
A 2018 study surveyed over 1200 families of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), who had neurotypical siblings to provide a comparison control group. In the 4 - 7 age group, just under half (47%) of children with ASD were found to be vulnerable to wandering behaviour, or attempts to run from a safe, supervised place, compared to 11% of unaffected siblings. In the 8 - 11 age group, 27% of the ASD children were prone to wandering, compared to just 1% of the siblings. Of the children who wandered, half had at some point gone missing, often into dangerous situations (source: Anderson et al, 2012, Occurrence and Family Impact of Elopement in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders, Pediatrics November 2012, 130 5 870-877).
The stark difference in dangerous behaviour of children with ASD compared to their siblings has an important implication that parents will no doubt find validating - it's not a result of poor parenting. Most parents reported it a huge stressor, interfering with their sleep and ability to enjoy any family trips away.
Despite the obvious strain and dangers involved, half had received no guidance or help on addressing or preventing the issue.
The dangers of children with autism wandering
In the US, drowning was the cause of death for 90% of deaths where a child with autism had wandered or ran from home. There are many tragic stories of children as young as three who were eventually found drowned (e.g. The Deseret, "Deaths of wandering autistic kids prompt action", 12/8/13).
In the UK, reports and studies are a lot rarer but this isn't to suggest the risks are any less severe.
A story from October 2020 reported a six-year old with autism was allowed by a school in Hull to leave alone, and was found wandering ten minutes later with her bike (source: Hull Live, 6/10/20)
Can a GPS Tracker help with autism wandering?
Crucially, our Stray Star GPS Tracker can alert you by text (or app notification) if your child wanders a certain distance from home or school. This can drastically reduce the time it takes you to find out they're missing, allowing you to find them a lot quicker.
You can also text the GPS Tracker at any time to get an instant location, or log into a web account or app to see the route taken and current location.
However, there are also limitations to be aware of. A GPS Tracker can't prevent wandering behaviour, so efforts should still be made to understand the reason that a child feels like wandering - which is usually to avoid something uncomfortable or seek out something of interest. Understanding these causes will often provide a greater scope for reducing the wandering.
GPS Trackers also shouldn't be overly relied on - it can't be guaranteed that your child has taken the device with them (if for example attached to a jacket or bag). There will always also be the small possibility of mast-tower faults, meaning that the network enters into a 'black spot' preventing you from being able to send or receive the relevant texts or data.
Preventing children with autism wandering
Our GPS Tracker is an essential safeguarding tool, but it's always a lot safer of course to prevent wandering in the first place. You will no doubt have given this plenty of consideration already, but here are some basic ways you can help the situation:
Stay aware of your child's needs and anxieties: it goes without saying, but understanding your child's motives and triggers can go a long way to ensuring they're more comfortable with the environment.
Use an ID Bracelet: Medical ID bracelets should include your name, telephone number and other important information. They may also state that your child has autism and is non-verbal if applicable.
Alert Your Neighbours:
It helps to introduce neighbours to your child or at least show/provide a photo. Knowing your neighbours can help reduce the risks associated with wandering.
Alert First Responders
Provide first responders with key information, which caregivers should carry at all times. Circulate the handout to family, neighbours and friends too.
Can a GPS Tracker help children with anxiety, panic disorders or who are at risk of bullying?
Every child's situation is unique when it comes to anxiety, causes of panic, and situations which might seem threatening or actually be dangerous.
It's not easy being a young person, especially with the added pressures and abuses of social media. A fifth of young people in the UK have suffered from bullying, with almost half going on to experience anxiety, and a quarter experiencing depression (source: DitchTheLabel survey 2019,2020, & BBC).
The locating ability commonly associated with GPS Trackers is less relevant in this scenario, but there are many other reasons a device could be useful:
- An SOS/panic button will text out, as well as make a call for a two-way conversation (which could be a friend, parent, teacher)
- A separate call-out button can call a designated number, which might be someone different from the SOS carer (e.g. to receive some reassurance with less urgency)
- As a parent, you might want to listen in to the surroundings or locate your child, if they're late from school for example
- If placed in a bag, the device can help safeguard from any risk of theft
The GPS Tracker is also tamper-proof (it can't be easily switched off), and waterproof with a non-obvious microphone and speaker.
An SOS/Panic alarm with two-way calling could be useful if there's risk of anxiety, bullying or panic attacks
"This is to say how delighted my daughter and son-in law are with the tracker I purchased for my grandson. The family live in Cairo and as you will know there has been a lot of unrest there, hence the concern for the welfare of this little boy aged 6. The device is easy to use and lives up to all expectations. Whilst there to deliver the tracker we had good reason to be grateful for it. We were stuck in traffic and he was on the school bus home coming from a different direction, he also was in a traffic jam. We were able to track his whereabouts and progress, then able to call the bus attendant to explain our position. They were able to care for the child until we arrived. Relief all round. I wish to say thank you for having such a great product. Yours sincerely"J Rosthorn
GPS Trackers to safeguard against abduction or kidnap
The UK Missing Persons Unit (part of the National Crime Agency) showed that in a single year across 2018/2019, 75,918 children were recorded missing by UK police forces. As some would go missing more than once, 218,707 total incidents were reported (source: UK Missing Persons Unit).
Fortunately 80% of these children were found within 24 hours.
There were also 1,107 child abduction offences reported in England and Wales in a year across 2019/20 - a figure which has doubled since 2013 (source: Statistica).
The kidnapping figure reported by Police is much higher - 5223 across 2018/19, double the figure from just four years prior (source: Action Against Abduction).
In September 2020, The Sun reported a terrifying situation where a gang had targeted seven young people in Worcester (source: "'COME WITH US' Boy, 14, latest victim of ‘child snatch gang’ amid reports of SEVEN kidnap attempts in Worcester"). It might seem overly cautious and paranoid to worry about this kind of thing - but the tragic reality is that it is happening.
Action Against Abduction found three quarters of stranger abductions involved girls and more than two-thirds of stranger abductions involved a perpetrator in a car. Fortunately the vast majority of missing children are found within 24 hours (source).
As an example, customers of our GPS Tracker have included a security team tasked with safeguarding the children of a high-profile celebrity. The risk of abduction by traffickers is sadly faced by a much larger demographic.
In 2020, Coronavirus sadly had a further adverse effect on safeguarding children in care, due to the government introducing statutory instrument 445 on 23 April without parliamentary debate or public consultation. This then abolished or reduced 65 vital legal protections for the affected youngsters, leaving already vulnerable children at further risk of exploitation or being retrafficked (source: The Guardian, "Number of missing vulnerable children soars as safeguarding is cut during pandemic").
The Reassurance of a GPS Tracker for Children
Whatever the situation, you can hopefully appreciate how useful a GPS Tracker could be. Our Stray Star GPS Tracker, while predominantly designed for people with dementia at risk of wandering, is also a great solution to safeguard against many possibilities.
It's tamper-proof, waterproof, and very cheap to run. There are no subscriptions, no call-centers, no ties - you're in complete control.
Here you can see some of the great functionality.
Locate your child whenever necessary
If your child wanders off or becomes lost - you can instantly know exactly where they are. At any time you can request a Google Map Location link via reply text message, accurate to within meters. You can also track online, using an app. The GPS signal is accurate to within a few meters.
See your child's location on the map at any time, via text message or app
Know if your child leaves or enters certain areas
You can't always keep an eye on your children - and plenty of times arise where they could - and do - manage to wander too far. The instant reassurance of an alert notification to say they've crossed an invisible boundary (a distance radius you set) lets you know sooner rather than later - so you can know exactly where - and when - they've wandered. You can also set the 'geo-fences' to let you know if your child enters them - receiving a text for example when they're at school, and again when they leave school.
Geofencing alerts let you know if your child has wandered
Two Way Calling & Discrete Listening
If your child is below the age where a mobile phone is appropriate, our device offers a handy two-way call option. Your child can either call you by pressing a button on the side, or by pressing the main SOS button on the front (both of which can also be disabled). You can call it too, where its answered automatically with either the speaker and mic, or just the mic enabled (allowing you to check on the surroundings). You could offer reassurance in any situation.
Reassure your child with a simple two-way call - made by either side
SOS/Panic button if your child is distressed
If your child becomes lost, anxious, threatened, or is being bullied, an alert text and phone call to you is just a button press away. Up to three different people can be notified by text, who will also be called in turn until someone answers, allowing some reassurance to be offered. The "Help Me!" text alert also includes a location link so you can see where your child is.
Your child can contact you instantly by pressing a panic button on the GPS Tracker
Online tracking shows your child's route & location
If on a school trip, visiting a friend or relative or travelling, you might be reassured to see your child's route, as well as live location, on a map. This can be on a website that you log into, or an associated app on your phone. Recent location history is also available. We give a simple step-by-step tutorial to setting up your free online tracking account - and you'll only need to pay around 30p per month for data usage. This also allows for multiple geo-fences to be set, so you can receive a beep on your app to let you know if your child has entered or left any specific areas.
See your child's route and location at any time
More Help & Information
If you want to delve into any further detail about a particular aspect about GPS Trackers for children who might be at risk of wandering, please select a page below: