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CNN SUNDAY

Interview With Kym Pasqualini

Aired March 17, 2002 - 18:18   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: The FBI is leading the hunt for two missing 13-year-old girls in Oregon City, Oregon. Each of these girls disappeared from the same apartment complex, almost exactly two months apart. The most recent, Miranda Gaddis, disappeared on Friday and Ashley Pond went missing on January 9. Authorities say these cases are related and both girls are victims of foul play. They were also the subject of last night's "America's Most Wanted."

Cases like these and the San Diego disappearance of Danielle van Dam are a parent's greatest fear. But what should parents be doing to protect their children? With me now is Kym Pasqualini, founder and president of the Nation's Missing Children Organization and Center for Missing Adults.

Kym, thanks so much for joining us because we took a look at this Oregon story and we said to ourselves, what are the odds that two girls from the same apartment complex would disappear in such a short amount of time? And you, yourself, were almost a victim of kidnapping when you were a kid, right?

KYM PASQUALINI, FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT, THE NATION'S MISSING CHILDREN ORGANIZATION: That's right. I was 8 years old and had been on my way home from school. I lived in a very rural community in Northern California, and I got off the school bus and a man had pulled up and approached me, or asked me actually -- he pulled his vehicle up and asked me to approach his vehicle, and I did, and as I got within arm's reach, I saw a knife in his right hand, as he reached for me with his left, and miraculously I escaped him.

But it was very traumatic. It was a run through pastures and barbed wire fence and nightmares commenced for me after that, and I think that that incident has haunted me because I don't know how many other children he may have abducted.

LIN: Yes, and it's obviously shaped your life as an adult. You were with two friends that day. Why do you think he picked you?

PASQUALINI: I was the smallest child there, and when he had told me to come over to him, I was -- he was an authority figure and I did what he said, and in that day too, we weren't educated. My father was a policeman with the local law enforcement agency and we just were not educated then.

LIN: Well, let me take a look at some of the points that you have given to us. We're going to throw up a graphic for our audience, so please grab some pens and papers if you want to take notes here.

You say several tips here: Know where your children are; use a buddy system; never let a child answer the door; keep doors and windows locked; keep tabs on the Internet and friends. Let me ask you about the first one. It seems like common sense. Don't most parents know where their kids are?

PASQUALINI: Well, you know, we can't watch our children all the time, and as our children get older we give them more freedom. But the key here is communication. I have teenagers myself, and without that trust and them confiding in you and telling you where they're going, you know that's a key element in protecting our children.

Obviously with younger children, we're going to want to do things like tell them, ask them -- role playing, just doing role playing and asking them different scenarios and working with those responses are good. You know as they get older ...

LIN: How do you do that without scaring your kids to death?

PASQUALINI: Well, we don't want to scare our children, but the fact of abduction and predators are very real, and unless we as parents take that as a very serious issue and educate ourselves, we can not possibly begin to educate our children.

LIN: When you say keep tabs on the Internet and friends, what do you mean by that?

PASQUALINI: The Internet is a great place to have an educational experience. However, there are dangers there and you know, isn't it scary to think that predators can come right into your children's bedrooms and living rooms, but it's happening via the Internet.

We want them to have a good experience, but also we want to monitor where they are. There are filter programs that you can obtain and that's going to be very helpful with filtering out undesirable information, and again, communication.

LIN: Right. Also, you say have on hand a current picture of your child, current height and weight. A lot of parents in the newsroom are surprised that they didn't know that information right off the top of their head, how much their kid weighed or how tall they were.

PASQUALINI: You know, it's something as simple as a child ID card, and there are many agencies out there that can do that for you, but we encourage parents to keep a current photograph that is the most important tool to recover a child should they become missing, and there are agencies out there that make it very easy for parents these days.

LIN: How many of these kids are recovered, Kym? Do you have any idea?

PASQUALINI: You know, the majority of children that are reported missing are going to be recovered safely, are going to have a very positive ending, but there are certainly those cases like Miranda and her friend that, you know, we just know that time is passing and we're just hoping for a positive ending here. But you have to keep hoping.

LIN: So are we. All right, thank you very much, Kym Pasqualini, for sharing your story and that really useful information. Good to see you.

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