Take them off the streets

Published 9:40 pm Thursday, May 28, 2015

With area schools preparing to send students away for their summer vacations, an incident at a school bus stop this week is a sad reminder that parents should be extremely careful to make sure their children are vigilant against and alert for threats while they’re outside of their homes.

According to city spokesman Tim Kelley, a Nansemond River High School student reported that a black man about 40-50 years old drove up in a tan Chevrolet Blazer and asked her if she would like a ride to school and then offered to buy her a meal. The man had a gray beard and was wearing a red shirt, Kelley said. The incident happened near the bus stop at Old College Drive and Camellia Drive.

According to a letter sent from Suffolk Public Schools to students at six elementary, middle and high schools in the area, the man asked the student if she wanted a ride and if she wanted to go get something to eat. The girl continued walking toward her bus, boarded the bus and told the driver about the incident.

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The student was wise in her reaction to the offer, but not all children have learned to be suspicious of strangers offering favors. One shudders to think of the harm she could have come to if the girl had accepted the man’s offer.

Suffolk Public Schools officials are doing their part to make sure parents talk to their children about the danger that could be posed by such strangers. On Tuesday, they sent students home with letters asking parents to remind children of suspicious and potentially dangerous activities at bus stops and in neighborhoods and schools.

Parents should be certain to take that step, as well as the extra one of reminding their children of how to stay safe while they’re outside during the summer.

And anyone who might have information about the driver of the tan Blazer is asked to call Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP or text the keyword SPDVATIP and the tip to 274637 (CRIMES). Tipsters never have to give their names or appear in court, and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

The community must come together to ensure that potential predators like this are taken off the streets.