Sarah Stultz: If you see something suspicious, say something

Published 10:00 pm Monday, August 6, 2018

Nose for News, By Sarah Stultz

I don’t know about you, but the news Saturday that there was an attempted abduction at the Freeborn County Fair put me a little on edge.

We read stories about this kind of thing all the time, but it’s not very often that it happens in our own community.

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I have a niece similar in age to the 12-year-old girl who unfortunately went through this scary ordeal, so I have been thinking about her most of the weekend.

Then to hear police say there was a second incident reported Sunday evening — this time the victim was a 22-year-old man — reminded me, and I’m sure others, to review our safety practices for both our children and ourselves.

Police have stated the two incidents are not related and it is not uncommon for more crime to occur during the fair because of an influx of people visiting the community from outside the area.

Regardless, I hope you will take a few minutes to review these guidelines on keeping our children safe from the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center that I saw shared by one of our community leaders on Facebook Monday morning.

Check first

Teach children to always check first with parents and caregivers before going anywhere with anyone, accepting gifts or allowing someone to photograph them. Teach them to yell “call 911,” “help” or even something like “fire” if someone attempts to abduct them.

Hang out in groups

Encourage children and teenagers to walk to and from school and out in the community in groups. Know the names and contact information for your child’s friends.

Trust your instincts

Encourage your children to follow their instincts. If your children feel in their gut that something is wrong, teach them to get out of that situation.

Talk about all secrets

Teach your children that there is never a good reason for them to keep a secret from their parent. If a child is asked to keep a secret, that is a red flag they should leave the situation they are in. Emphasize the difference between a secret and a surprise (such as what you got for someone for a birthday).

Say no, get away, tell an adult

Teach your children about times they may need to say no to an adult. If a child is tricked into confusing or harmful touch, teach them to say “no” loudly and then get away from the situation and tell a trusted adult.

Know about yourself

Teach children to know their phone number, address, parents names and phone numbers. Practice making a 911 call with your child in case of an emergency.

Be safe online

Teach children not to give out personal information online or to meet people from online in real life without parental permission.

To everyone — whether you have children or not — remember that if you see something questionable, report it to authorities.

Police can’t be everywhere, and our children deserve the whole community’s help in case a harmful situation arises.

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Tuesday.