Yesterday morning in the Hollywood Park neighborhood, a young boy was waiting for a bus when a man in a white cargo-type van without side windows pulled up to the boy’s bus stop and tried to lure him inside. When the boy ran to tell his father, the van sped away. One of our own member’s children was similarly approached by a man in a white van, but when this child’s mother saw what was happening and began to move toward the van, it again sped off.
Instances like these are certainly disturbing. This is why I wanted to send you a note so that you could, first, be aware of this urgent news story and, second, take a moment to talk to your children about how strangers can mean danger.
If you would, allow me to share a few thoughts on talking to your children about staying safe outside while waiting for a bus, playing, or any other scenario where you, as parents, may not be immediately present. You can remind your children:
- Never to go anywhere without consulting you first.
- That dangerous people do not always look mean or scary.
- Never to get close to a stranger and to make sure they have plenty of room to run from a stranger.
- Never to help a stranger look for a lost pet or play a game.
- Never to get into a vehicle with someone they do not know.
- Never to share their name or address with someone they do not know.
- About “safe places” such as police and fire stations, the library, a store, or a friend’s house. These are places kids can go for help!
- That if a stranger grabs them, they need to yell loudly and shout, “I don’t know you!”
- That they can call 911 in case of an emergency.
I share these thoughts with you not to alarm you, but to remind you of all the different things you can do to help keep your children safe. You can find additional resources on keeping your kids safe at take25.org and safelyeverafter.com. Please be assured that, when your children are on Concordia’s campus, we do everything in our power to try to ensure your children’s safety and well-being. Your children’s safety is our number one priority.
If you have any information on the news story cited above, please contact the Hollywood Park Police at (210) 494-3575, extension 236. Remember that in an uncertain and sometimes frightening world, our God promises that He “is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
Senior Pastor, Concordia Lutheran Church