Most Viewed Stories
- Man who robbed Foothills bank sentenced to nearly 20 years in federal prison
- Police seek timeline of days leading up to woman's death
- Change of plea hearing delayed for ex-Yuma dancer
- New trial date set and plea agreement accepted in baseball bat murder case
- Man accused of trying to smuggle almost $1M worth of cocaine
Attempted kidnap report was false alarm
A report of an attempted abduction Thursday afternoon near two Yuma schools turned out to be a false alarm, police said.
According to Officer Joe Franklin of the Yuma Police Department, officers responded to McGraw Elementary School at about 3:30 p.m. after a sixth-grade student from Gila Vista Junior High School said someone attempted to kidnap her while she was walking home from school.
Franklin said that when officers arrived on scene, the girl told them she believed that a bald man wearing a black shirt and gray pants was going to try to kidnap her, so she ran into McGraw Elementary School for help, where the staff automatically called the police.
Detectives from the police department interviewed the girl and determined there was no attempt to abduct her, said Franklin. “She told them she was frightened by the man and that something didn't seem right.”
During the incident, both campuses notified their students' parents via automated call.
“McGraw and Gila Vista sent home a message to apprise parents to encourage their kids to be extra cautious and to know that the school was doing the same and that we were cooperating with police,” said District Superintendent Darwin Stiffler.
While children see strangers every day, parents can protect their children from potentially dangerous strangers by teaching them about suspicious behavior and what to do if someone makes them feel uncomfortable, and by taking a few precautions of their own.
The National Crime Prevention Council offers numerous tips for parents on its website at www.ncpc.org/topics/violent-crime-and-personal-safety/strangers to help their children stay safe and avoid dangerous situations.
• You can help your children recognize safe strangers, such as police officers and firefighters, by pointing them out. Also point out safe places. Show your children safe places to play, safe roads and paths to take, and safe places to go if there's trouble.
• Know where your children are at all times. Make it a rule that they must ask permission or check in with you before going anywhere. Give your children your work and cell phone numbers so they can reach you at all times.
• Teach children to trust their instincts. Explain that if they ever feel scared or uncomfortable, they should get away as fast as they can and tell an adult. Tell them that sometimes adults they know may make them feel uncomfortable, and they should still get away as fast as possible and tell another adult what happened. Reassure children that you will help them when they need it.
• Teach your children to be assertive. Make sure they know that it's OK to say no to an adult and to run away from adults in dangerous situations.
• Encourage your children to play with others. There's safety in numbers.
James Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.