Putting a priority on children’s safety

I used to watch a lot of Oprah when I worked early hours, didn’t have kids and was home for her weekday show.

One of the episodes that still sticks with me is when a police officer went undercover to show viewers how easy it is for strangers to get an “in” with kids and potentially kidnap them.

Some of the ways the police officers appealed to kids and their natural sense of wanting to help others was by sitting in a car near a mailbox and asking a child who walks by to help him put the mail in the mailbox. The officer claims he can’t get out of the car because he requires a cane, which is sitting nearby, and asks if the child can lean in and grab the letters for the mailbox. And that’s when an abductor would make his move.

Or … the police officer has a cute little puppy beside him and invites a child walking by to take a look.

All of these situations are so sad because they take advantage of the good-natured sense of children. It gives you a pit in your stomach when you think about it.

I’ve talked to my kids about this several times over the years and again recently after a man approached a boy outside of school. It’s a topic I hate to think about but want to be sure my kids are aware of. The boy in that situation did the right thing by not going with the stranger and telling an adult.

If you are concerned about recent incidents, you might want to consider attending an information session on Thursday.

Here is the press release from the Town of Menasha Police Department:

The Fox Valley has experienced several suspicious incidents recently involving adults approaching children.  Some of these cases have resulted in arrests for indecent conduct and some of the investigations proved to be innocent or a misunderstanding.  We were very fortunate that none of these events turned out to be more serious or tragic!  The children in these cases also did the right thing by leaving the situation and further more telling someone about it.

 These incidents are very alarming to us in law enforcement and as parents.  The crime prevention officers in Neenah, Menasha and the Town of Menasha are teaming up with the Mission Home organization and the Fox Cities Victim Crisis Responders to give a free community presentation on this issue, both to parents and children.  The meeting will feature a presentation and question/answer session for parents while at the same time, a presentation will be given on the Yell & Tell program and stranger safety to the children (elementary school age).  For more information on the Yell & Tell program, visit their website:  www.yellandtell.com

 The meeting will be held on Thursday, November 29 at 6 p.m. at the Town of Menasha Municipal Complex, 2000 Municipal Dr. Neenah, WI 54956.

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