Watch your kids, and warn them

Published 10:14 pm Monday, December 15, 2014

Parents collecting their children from the bus stop in the 300 block of North Broad Street were nervous Friday.

The familiar yellow bus pulled away just as I arrived and parked nearby, after news broke of an attempted abduction there that morning. It deposited several children, and moms and dads were eager to clamp eyes on them.

A student who rides the bus reported the incident. He or she — we don’t know which — told the driver they saw a man grab the 4-year-old boy as he waited at the bus stop. The boy was released, and the man left on foot.

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Police have a description of the suspect: a black male, 5 feet 11 inches to 6 feet tall, thin to medium build. He was described as wearing a black hoodie.

The concern of the parents I spoke with on the corner of North Broad Street and Third Avenue was more acutely expressed in their eyes than their words.

One woman who wasn’t a parent was critical of the actions of some parents, saying, “They put their kids out here and run.”

Indeed, she has established a habit of looking out the front door of the house where she was interviewed to supervise the kids, because no other adult hangs around to do so.

It makes one wonder if the suspect may have targeted this particular bus stop for its lack of supervision. At any rate, a posse of parents waiting around to see their children onto the bus would clearly have been a deterrent.

Until the lights start flashing, the stop sign extends out, the doors open and a child climbs aboard the bus, the safety of that child is the sole responsibility of the parents or guardians.

It would be nice to think we lived in a society where that wasn’t something anyone had to worry about. But we all know what the answer to that is.

In a letter sent home with students, Elephant’s Fork principal Andre Skinner — who cares a lot for the safety and well being of every child attending his school — asked parents to discuss “stranger danger” with their kids.

“Remind them to never accept rides or carry on a conversation with unfamiliar people, as well as the importance of reporting such incidents to administrators, teachers, or other trusting adults immediately,” Skinner wrote.

It’s good advice for any parent of a minor.