Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.
Safety Tips for Parents
Tomorrow is Monday, and that means that thousands of Spotsy students will be getting on and off school buses throughout the county. In the wake of two attempted kidnappings, Spotsy resident and retired FBI agent Clint van Zandt offers this advice:
Almost 50 percent of kidnapped children are taken while on the street, including at school bus stops. This was also the case when a teenaged California girl reported she was approached near her school bus stop by two men in apickup truck. The passenger in the truck started a conversation with the teenager and then offered her a ride. When she refused the passenger displayed a handgun and ordered her into the truck. As another vehicle distracted the occupants of the truck, the young woman ran home and called police.
School Bus Stop Safety Issues
1. Parents should ensure that if possible, an adult waits with children at school bus stops. This is not always possible with one-parent families or where both parents work, but something could be worked out with all parents of children at the bus stop taking turns so someone is always there.
2. Know the path your child takes to and from their home to the schoolbus stop.
3. Teach your kids to avoid short cuts through woods, alleys, parks, or other areas where they could be alone.
4. Identify safe houses along the way that your child could run to orinto for help if needed.
5. Make sure your child does not have their name on their backpack, etc., as this would enable a potential abductor to call out to the child by name.
6. If your child feels concerned for their safety, they should always tell their parents and the bus driver of any such concern.
7. If approached on the way to or from the bus stop or at the bus stop, tell your parents, the bus driver, and school officials.
8. Report any suspicious vehicle, writing down the license number and providing it to school and law enforcement officials.
9. Stand away from any vehicle that stops near the bus stop and do not allow yourself to come close to or enter the vehicle of someone you don’t want to.
10. Run from anyone displaying a weapon, this while throwing books, yelling, and making as much noise as you can. Under no circumstances go with an abductor, no matter what the threat. If with other children, run in different directions while all call for help.
You can find more of van Zandt’s tips here.