An incident near Fruitvale Elementary on Thursday (January 26) is a poignant reminder they need to make sure their children know what to do if approached by a stranger.

In the incident mentioned, a man the children didn't know, got out of a white van and told the two children to get in. The suspect is an older white male who was wearing a black hat, dirty white shirt and dark colored pants and jacket. The van had rust and mud on the bottom.

Knowing that following the man's request would be dangerous, the children ran away and reported the encounter to their teacher who contacted the police.

While these two children and many others in the community know what to do, it is still a good idea to rehearse with children what to do in a potentially dangerous situation.

First, don't frighten your children into thinking all strangers are bad. Rather, teach them how to recognize situations where a stranger's actions may be dangerous. Other tips include:

  • Parents should tell their children they should never keep secrets from them even if the person threatens harm if they tell.
  • Have a family code word that must be used before going anywhere with anyone even if it's someone they know. If the person insists, tell your child to have them contact you for permission while keeping a safe distance.
  • If lost, your child needs to stay put. A trustworthy stranger will understand and probably offer to wait with the child until their parent finds them.
  • Teach your children if anyone tries to force them to go somewhere to scream and yell for help. Saying 'this is not my daddy/mommy along with kicking, biting, and hair pulling sends a very clear message to both the person trying to abduct the child and anyone nearby this is not just a child throwing a temper tantrum.

According to the Child Rescue Network, 93% of who are victimized know their abductor or abuser.

Sources: MCSO News / Children Rescue Network