This article originally appeared on 01.27.21
There are few things as frightening to a parent than losing your child in a crowded place like a shopping mall, zoo, or stadium. The moment you realize your child is missing, it's impossible not to consider the terrifying idea they may have been kidnapped.
A woman in New Zealand recently lost her son in a Kmart but was able to locate him because of a potentially life-saving parenting hack she saw on TikTok a few months ago.
The woman was shopping at the retailer when she realized her two-year-old son Nathan was missing. She immediately told a friend to alert the staff to ensure he didn't leave through the store's front exit.
"Another friend searched the area he was last seen," the mom wrote in a Facebook post.
The mother began looking for him by rummaging through clothes racks and running through the aisles.
It was the "scariest 10 minutes of my life" she later wrote.
But then she remembered a parenting hack she saw on TikTok by blogger Jess Martini. "If your child goes missing, screw the stares and start calling out their description," the mother recalled.
"I'm missing a little boy, he's wearing a yellow shirt and has brown hair. He's two years old and his name is Nathan!" she called out to the rest of the store while reminding herself not to "break down" in tears.
"You need people to understand you loud and clear," she said.
The mother's calls immediately deputized everyone who heard them to begin looking for the child. It was like multiplying the search by a factor of 10. "I turned an aisle and heard 'He's here!'" she wrote. "I turned back the way I came and there he was. A man had walked past him after hearing me calling out."
She immediately thanked the man, realizing that if she hadn't called out he may have never known the child was missing. "Nate would have walked past him and he wouldn't have blinked," she said.
In November, parenting blogger Jess Martini posted a video sharing the best way for parents to locate a missing child. It's great advice because the knee-jerk response is usually to just call out their name or silently run around looking.
@jesmartini PSA that I feel can save kids and I’ve used- if your child goes missing in public #momsoftiktok#PSA#nojudgement#fyp#4up#besafe#parentsoftiktok♬ original sound - Jess martini
"To all parents out there, if your child goes missing, do not search in silence or just call out their name,' Martini says in the video. "Shout out loud and clear. Say they're missing, give a description and repeat, repeat, repeat!"
"Everyone will be on alert, and if someone is trying to take off with your kid, it will decrease the chances of them getting away," she added.
The advice is a great reminder to make a mental note of what your child is wearing when you go out, so if they go missing, you can easily provide a description. It also proof that when a parent needs help, most people are more than willing to lend a hand.