Attempted abduction of child reported

JOHNSTOWN — Patricia Kilburn, superintendent of the Greater Johnstown School District, sent a letter home with students Friday alerting parents to the attempted abduction of an elementary student on Wednesday.

“While returning home from Family Fun Night, an elementary student was approached near her residence by a tall, thin, blonde-haired male, believed to be in his mid-20s. An attempted to grab the child was made. The police have been informed,” Kilburn said in the letter. “In view of the nature of this report, I am asking parents reinforce to your children the importance of being alert, as well as how to react in such a situation.”

Kilburn directed parents to the school district’s website — www.johnstownschools.org — for safety reminders for parents and students.

The safety reminders include:

∫ Remind children that danger sometimes isn’t in the form of a stranger or a “bad man.” Danger doesn’t have a gender, age, kind of car or dark scary uniform.

∫ Adults don’t need help from children, and [the child] should never get close to a vehicle. Remind your children that if an adult lost his/her puppy or needs directions, to go get another adult to help. This is the most common ploy to entice children to get into a car. Another ploy is, “Your mom (or dad) was in a car accident and wanted me to take you to the hospital.” Discuss this with your kids and devise an action plan. Consider a code word that will let them know if it is safe to accept a ride from a neighbor. For example, you’re stuck in traffic and the kids are due to get home any minute. You call a neighbor and ask them to pick up the kids. Send a code word so that the kids will know it’s safe.

∫ Children should travel in packs. There is safety in numbers. Have your children walk home together and never play outside alone. If they are riding their bike to a friend’s house, have them call as soon as they arrive.

∫ Have designated safe houses. If your child is playing on the block away from the house, have him/her be aware of houses that they can go to that you trust will be safe. These houses would be where they can go for help.

∫ Get to know your neighbors, their kids and their cars. If you’re familiar with your surroundings, it is easy to identify when something is out of place.

∫ Report everything. Call your local police department as soon as possible.

By Patricia Older

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