Don't Become A Lost Parent - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Jonesboro, AR -- Heather Flanigan Reports

Don't Become A Lost Parent

May 2, 2005 – Posted at 4:45 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, AR -- It's a parent's nightmare. Your child is lost in a crowded store. It happened over the weekend at Indian Mall and while the outcome was good, one customer worries that not enough was done.

“She couldn't speak English very well and she was at the service desk at Sears. She saw me with my little girl and she took off running to me, and screaming for me to help her,” said Lavondia Barnes, who was shopping with her daughter at the time.

“I stopped, I thought maybe she thought I was an employee and she was saying, ‘my baby, my baby, my little girl.’ And I asked is she missing? She said ‘yes, yes, gone, gone,’ ” said Barnes.

Barnes says the employees at Sears didn't do enough to help the mom who was missing her daughter.

“They ignored me and they could understand what I was saying, they could hear me screaming through the store, and they just ignored me and turned and went about their business,” said Barnes, “There was no call, no shut down, no nothing.”

Sears employees were not allowed to speak with us on camera.

But a spokesperson for the store did say they had used their security cameras and a dozen store associates looking for the missing two-year-old child.

However, another spokesperson for the store says the child was five and had actually wondered to the jewelry counter saying she had lost her mom.

Confused yet?  So were we. While there is more than one version of what happened, it goes to show that having a plan if your child is lost can make a big difference.

“It begins at home by teaching your children their name, their address, maybe a phone number in case they do get separated from you,” said Sgt. Stephen McDaniel of the Jonesboro Police Department.

Making a mental note about what your child is wearing can help officials searching, and remember, the store is not the babysitter.

“A lot parents tend to let their children play in the toy aisle of the store while they shop for other things, or in some stores where they have video games set up, they will let their children play video games,” said Sgt. McDaniel, “I would say that you should never leave your child in those areas. If there is a predator looking, they are likely to be in that area looking for a child because they know that is where children are going to be.”

Fortunately, the little girl lost on Saturday was found quickly. A tough lesson learned for any parent.

“Once she got a grip of the child, she ran over and was hugging me, saying 'thank you, thank you, thank you.' And that's all that she could say,” said Barnes.

Indian mall says any lost child or parent should contact the customer service desk in the food court or a security officer for help.

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