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Stranger Danger: As Abductions Rise, Tips to Keep Kids Safe

Updated: Thursday, May 22 2014, 04:40 PM CDT
SPRINGFIELD -- School is almost out for the summer and as kids spend more and more time outside authorities are warning parents of "stranger danger."

"It's definitely something that's always on your mind because, I mean, that would just be the worst case scenario. The worst thing you can imagine," mother Bethany Romero said.

Child abductions are a frightening threat that authorities say rises as we move through the warmer months.

"Summertime, after school, you know, weekends, we tend to see more of these things," Sangamon County Undersheriff Jack Campbell said.

Deputies say attempted abduction cases are often difficult to solve because very young victims are only able to say so much.

"You know sometimes they tell us it's a blue pickup truck and it was a red pickup truck. So there's things that we have to be open to in law enforcement and to understand that children may not have the exact information," Campbell said.

The information your children should know is his or her name, phone number, address and the names of his or her parents.

Authorities say parents should never leave young children unattended. But if there's one lesson to teach your child about stranger danger it's this:

"If somebody does grab them and they can tell that this person is not kidding around with them [tell them] to utilize their ability to yell and scream, kick, punch, scratch, anything you can. The main thing is noise," Campbell said.

Authorities say children are safer in groups. Groups of kids playing and groups of parents watching.

"It's kind of nice because, you know, you have six pairs of eyes on your kids instead of just your own," Romero said.

Romero and her friends oversee a play group at Washington Park. It's a way to share the responsibility that falls on a single set of parents while teaching kids a valuable lesson.

"We want to try to teach our kids to have healthy relationships with people and, you know, that even means sometimes getting to know strangers," father David Lasley said. "But thinking about the context, you know, what's going on. What the person is trying to engage our kids in. If it's appropriate."

As far as teaching your child your phone number and address, that's obviously not something you can do with very young children. In cold weather, authorities say you can write that information on your child's jacket. When it's warm, they say try to include that information on a laminated index card that can fit in a pocket.

There were some tense moments Tuesday night when Springfield Police got a report of an attempted abduction in the 1100 block of Germania Avenue but when police arrived they determined the incident involved a man yelling at a group of kids for throwing rocks at cars and homes. Stranger Danger: As Abductions Rise, Tips to Keep Kids Safe


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