A report that a man followed and solicited a group of young girls has Blaine police encouraging parents to talk to their kids about what to do if they end up in a similar situation.
On April 6, at approximately 4:30 p.m., a group of young girls, ages 10 and 11, were reportedly followed and approached by a man in a white sedan while walking on 8th Street on their way to the Boys & Girls Club. When the man invited them to get into his car, the girls ran away and reported the incident to an adult. The girls described him as being a balding, white male in his 40s.
“They did exactly what they were supposed to do,” said Blaine Police Department spokesperson Lisa Moeller. “They stayed together and they went and found someone they trusted and told them what happened, and then they reported it to us.”
Moeller said that police are investigating the event, but no other related incidents have been reported.
She said that this incident should encourage parents to talk with their kids about how to stay safe, particularly when approached by a stranger. “This is a great opportunity to start that conversation,” she said. Moeller recommended visiting the Take25.org website (take25.org) for helpful suggestions on how to broach the topic.
The website is a program initiated by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and offers educational safety resources for parents, educators and law enforcement to use when discussing with kids the importance of being aware of their surroundings and what to do if they feel they are in danger.
“Talking to kids about ways that someone might approach them and the methods they might use is really important,” she said.
According to Take25.org, the five most common methods a predator uses to lure a child are offering them a ride, offering them candy or sweets, asking them questions, offering them money or using an animal to get them to come close.
“Sometimes it’s as simple as asking them to help them look for a missing pet,” Moeller said.
Take25.org suggests the following tips for helping kids stay safe:
1. Instruct your children to always take a friend when going places and stay with a group while attending school outings and/or standing at the bus stop. If your child walks to school, practice walking the route with them. Make your children familiar with your neighborhood by pointing out landmarks and safe places to go if they are being followed or need help. Teach your children to always stay in well-lit areas, never take shortcuts and never go into isolated areas.
2. Teach your children the appropriate steps to take if approached or followed. If someone tries to grab your children, tell them they should draw attention to themselves and loudly yell “This person is trying to take me,” or “This person is not my father/mother.” Instruct your child to make every effort to escape by walking, running, or pulling away; yelling; kicking; attracting attention and/or otherwise resisting. If they are ever followed by someone, tell them to get away as quickly as possible and run in the opposite direction to tell you or another trusted adult.
3. Teach your children it is more important to get out of a threatening situation than it is to be polite. Children should be taught that just because someone tries to engage them in conversation doesn’t mean they should talk to that person or forget their safety rules. Remind them it is OK to be impolite and say no.
4. Talk openly to your children about safety and encourage them to tell you or another trusted adult if anyone or anything makes them feel sad, scared or confused. Teach them it is OK to tell you what happened and they will not be “tattletales” for telling.
5. Practice basic safety skills with your children by creating “teachable moments” to make sure they understand the safety messages and are able to use them in real-life situations. Help your children identify trusted adults who may be able to help them if they need assistance.
For more ways you can help keep your kids safe and start the conversation about what to do if a stranger approaches, visit Take25.org.