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Last Tuesday, students at Bedford Elementary School learned about preventing encounters with strangers and what to do if a person they do not know tries to take them.
“The Child Connection Inc.,” is an independent, non-profit organization that actively searches for missing and exploited children throughout all of U.S.A. and Canada. TCC was founded in 1992 to aid and assist local law enforcement and other federal agencies in the recovery of missing children. TCC also acts as a liaison between law enforcement and parents.
Students at BES learned a variety of tips in dealing with strangers. Yell, Kick, Scream was one of the techniques taught to students if a stranger tried to grab them. Kidnappers want children to go along quietly. Instead, the child should yell – “This is a stranger!” The child should also kick the kidnapper’s foot, groin or knee and scream.
Students were encouraged to know their area code and phone number in case of an emergency and were recommended not to give their phone number or address to strangers over the internet.
The "buddy system" was also a key focal point of the program. Because children who are alone are easy targets students were encouraged to go places together and watch out for one another.
Parents that attended the program learned to keep current photos and records (dental & medical) on their children.
Lure tactics are a common way kidnappers get children to go with them. Students at BES learned to ignore strangers and avoid conversations. Kidnappers will use any comments to lure children. “I have lost my puppy. Will you help me find him?” “I’ll give you $10 if you’ll help me put this in the car.” BES students had the chance to practice ignoring these types of situations.
Parents were encouraged to develop family code words for children. Under no circumstance should your child leave with a person that does not know the code word your family developed.
Children were also taught what to do if they were separated from their parents while in a store. Children were recommended to find a cashier or ticket booth if they can’t find their parents.
When asked what was learned from the program, third-grader Reese Webster said, “I learned a lot. Like if a stranger came up to me that I should back away. If he tried to grab me, I would run away and scream…stranger, stranger.”
Three second-graders weighed-in on the lessons learned. “I learned to not help people that I don’t know unless my parents say it’s ok because they may steal me,” Emma Horn said. Ella Beeles “learned to never talk with strangers,” she said. “I learned if I ever get lost in a store to find someone that works there and ask for help,” Grace Andrews said.
Parents and teachers were also encouraged to take a mental note of what students wear during the day. The program discouraged putting the child’s name on the outside of his/her clothing because it allows a stranger to become verbally intimate with your child. If needed, put their name in the inside of the clothing.