School district warns of 'stranger danger'
Marysville school district Superintendent Diane Mankins sent out a note to parents this week about a suspicious person who approached a young girl after she got off the bus.
"On Friday, Aug. 24, a 12-year-old female student was dropped off at the New Dover Mobile Home Park bus stop at 3:14 p.m. Shortly thereafter, a man tried to get her to go with him in his vehicle but failed," Mankins said.
Union County Chief Deputy Tom Morgan said the girl's parents filed a report with the sheriff's office stating an adult male had attempted to coerce the girl into his vehicle.
"The man asked the girl to get in his car several times and she ran home and told her father, who called the sheriff's office," he said.
The girl described the man as being older and balding, with short gray hair. He was wearing a bluish-gray, long-sleeved shirt and was driving a silver Ford sedan.
Deputies searched the area and the information was given to surrounding agencies to be on the lookout for the man. The sheriff's department is still investigating.
Mankins said it appears the girl did everything right.
"She didn't get in the vehicle and ran to a group of friends. Most importantly, she shared what happened with an adult," Mankins said. "This is exactly what we teach with stranger danger programs and I am pleased with her actions in seeking and finding a safe solution."
Mankins said she did not send the letter to parents to cause alarm but to keep them informed of the situation as a teaching point for students.
Tips she offered for students included:
* Don't talk to strangers or walk to an unknown vehicle at the driver's request.
* Don't accept anything from a stranger.
* Walk with an adult or group of friends to and from the bus stop.
* Follow the appropriate walking routes and stay in well-lit areas.
* Go directly home after school, and check in with your parent upon arrival.
* Tell a trusted adult if approached by an unknown person, or if they find themselves in an uncomfortable situation.
Mankins said reports indicate the incident occurred about 10 to 15 minutes after the bus dropped the girl off. District bus drivers are trained to scan all areas and report any suspicious or unusual behavior.
"Additionally, our students in grades K-8 receive bus safety education," she said. "A part of that program is 'stranger danger.' The transportation department reviews what to do when a stranger approaches you, including finding and telling an adult.
"I think situations like these remind us that we have to continually communicate about safety with our children," Mankins added. "The more we talk and remind them of the simple ways to stay safe, like walking in a group, the better prepared they are.
"It is our collective responsibility to make our schools and community a safe place to live. Every teacher, student and community member working together creates the safest situation for us all," she said..
Anyone with information about the incident should call the Union County Sheriff's Office at (937) 645-4110.