Summer is 'vulnerable time' for kids says 'America's Most Wanted' host John Walsh

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by Catherine Holland

GMAZ interview by Kaley O'Kelley

Posted on June 15, 2012 at 10:15 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 13 at 12:35 PM

New device can provide peace of mind for parents

PHOENIX -- June is National Safety Month, and if there's one person who knows about safety, especially children's safety, it's John Walsh, host of "America's Most Wanted" and founder of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Walsh, the father of a murdered son, is passionate about the issue of children's safety. His 6-year-old boy, Adam, vanished from a mall in Hollywood, Fla. in July 1981. He was found murdered two weeks later.

"For the last 31 years, I've been trying to change laws all over the country and to catch bad guys," Walsh told 3TV's Kaley O'Kelley Wednesday morning.

"This is a very vulnerable time, in the summer," Walsh said. "People let their guards down. Kids are out of school, and they're everywhere, having a good time."

According to the NCMEC, an estimated 80,000 children are reported missing each year. That's more than 2,000 kids each day.

Walsh said parents need to be proactive. "Parent up" is how he puts it, pointing out that a parent's job is to keep his or her children safe.

Walsh has teamed up with a company call GreatCall to get the word out about a little device called the 5Star Urgent Response™.

"It's a special safety responder," Walsh said.

In the simplest terms, it's a panic button with two-way communication. One press and a trained and certified response agent can determine your location and get you help if needed. Walsh says it's perfect not just for children, but also for women.

"My wife has one of these," he said.

He said the 5Star is also good for seniors should they become confused or lost while out and about.

"It is all about proactive safety," Walsh said.

"5Star is designed for anyone who feels their safety is being compromised or threatened, or could use some professional help in determining the appropriate course of action, especially if they’re not sure if they should call 911," reads the GreatCall website.

The agents on the other end of the 5Star line are certified by the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch®,  trained in CPR and other emergency protocols, and are equipped to handle a wide variety of situations. They also can provide support in more than 100 languages and will stay on the line with you until your issue has been taken care of.

Not a replacement for 911 -- that should always be the first call in case of emergency -- GreatCall agents do work with 911 dispatchers and can connect you if necessary.

The 5Star button, which is equipped with GPS, is $50. Service is $14.99 with no cancellation fees. Service for additional devices is $8.99 each. There is a one-time setup fee of $35, but you can get a $10 discount if you activate online.

In addition to the physical device, 5Star has apps for both iPhone and Android.

While the 5Star is a wonderful device and service should the worst happen, Walsh said parents need to talk to their kids about safety, what they should and should not do, and have a game plan should the child become lost.

The key, Walsh says, is communicating with your child.

Since AMW debuted in 1988, the show has helped find more than 50 missing children and been part of nearly 1,200 captures around the world. As wonderful as that is, it doesn't necessarily ease Walsh's own pain -- at least not completely.

"I'll always be the father of a murdered child, and that pain will always be there," Walsh said in December, on the eve of AMW's 25th season premiere. "Doing this show for 25 seasons has been very therapeutic. I get to help other families. … It's my way of fighting back without being a vigilante."

"America's Most Wanted" airs Friday nights on Lifetime. Check your local listings for specifics.

To learn more about the 5Star Urgent Response™, check out GreatCall.com.
 

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