School District Speaks Out: Talk to Your Kids About the Attempted Kidnappings

Speak openly to kids, urges district, in the wake of three kidnapping attempts since January


[Editor's Note: The released this announcement early this morning, as a reaction to in recent months. View a mock up of the suspected assailant at right.]

Over the past few months there have been three recorded incidents of a man approaching a student on an elementary campus and asking if the student needed a ride home from school. He is described as a Latino male 5’7” with dark hair wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans, white shoes and is clean shaven. In each of these cases the school principal has been contacted and in turn the Sheriff’s Department has responded to interview the respective victims.

We would like for you, as parents, to talk with your children about safety outside your home. The following is modified from The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, www.missingkids.com:

What are the most important things parents should tell children about safety?

  1. Always check first with a parent, guardian, or trusted adult before going anywhere, accepting anything, or

    getting into a car with anyone.

  2. Do not go out alone. Always take a friend with you when going places or playing outside.

  3. Say no if someone tries to touch you, or treats you in a way that makes you feel sad, scared, or confused. Get out of the situation as quickly as possible.

  4. Tell a parent, guardian, or trusted adult if you feel sad, scared, or confused.

  5. There will always be someone to help you, and you have the right to be safe.


Speak to your children in a manner that is calm and reassuring. Children do not need to be frightened to get the point across. In fact, fear can thwart the safety message, because fear can be paralyzing to a child.

Speak openly. Children will be less likely to come to you about issues enshrouded in secrecy. If they feel that you are comfortable discussing the subject at hand, they may be more forthcoming.

Practice what you preach. You may think your children understand your message, but until they can incorporate it into their daily lives, it may not be clearly understood. Find opportunities to practice “what if” scenarios.

Teach your children that safety is more important than manners. In other words, it is more important for children to get themselves out of a dangerous situation than it is to be polite. They also need to know that it is okay to tell you what happened, and they won’t be tattletales.

Please be assured that the Sheriff’s Department will be actively providing extra patrol in the area in an effort to identify this individual. As a school district we will be on alert in an effort to help the Sheriff’s Department in their search. If you have additional questions, please contact your site principal.

Irene Morgan February 09, 2012 at 11:07 PM
I did not find this notice from the school district to be reassuring for the safety of our children. You need to give the kids skills---tell them to scream and to say "you're not my father". Don't be polite does not explain what they are to do if they feel threatened. Some years ago (in a different city), two 10 year old boys that I know were walking home. A truck pulled up and literally one of the boys was snatched. The other boy throught quickly and did something he was not supposed to do---he stopped the first car that came along and told the driver what happened. The driver called the police with a cell phone and the boy went along to describe the truck. The story has a happy ending--the boy was found before anything happened. But if his friend had not "talked to strangers", "hailed a strange car" and had merely gone to his house to call from there, it is not clear that the captured boy would have been safely found. . Hopefully there are undercover police working at the school and our kids are really being protected. These instructions just made me kind of sad. .
Albert David February 09, 2012 at 11:32 PM
Maybe the schools could help the parents in organizing "walkers clubs", "car pools" and the like. If you are a working parent whose child does not take a school bus, you are probably quite frightened and helpless right now. While everyone knows the traditional "don't go with strangers," what if the stranger forces you into the car as in the case that Irene described? Maybe neighbors can help eachother through the guidance of the school.
Dorothy February 10, 2012 at 01:16 AM
I don't think there is much you can do to prepare your child for an abductor. You can tell them don't go with strangers, scream that "you're not my father", drop your back pack and run to get away. But a child will not be strong enough to fight off an adult. So it is up to the school and police to help the parents keep their children safe.
Suzanne Barbara February 10, 2012 at 09:41 PM
I wish the release from the schools had featured a special meeting to educate parents and children about what to do if someone tries to abduct them. The old "dont go with strangers" will not help is someone tries to "snatch" you so that you have to run away from them.
Rena B February 11, 2012 at 01:44 AM
This has shaken me up quite a bit. I always felt that my family was safe in Sonoma, but I guess it only takes one person to change that concept.
Richard February 11, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Well these are basic rules to tell you children. But I hope the schools are doing more than this--the role playing that is suggested could take place in a classroom as well as at home.


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