There has been a worrying amount of news stories recently involving strangers approaching children in parks, supermarkets or even at the school gates. One extremely frightening local case was just a few days ago, when three men were arrested for trying to abduct a three year old girl from an Asda superstore – where she was at the checkout without her mum. Thankfully store staff intervened, but stories like this put an immense amount of fear into parents like me.
I phoned my oldest daughter’s school and asked if they planned to tighten their security measures after they text parents a number of “stranger alerts” and in response to local news stories. The school asked me what exactly it was I wanted them to do. I pointed out, that just a few weeks ago, I collected my friend’s son from school. My friend hadn’t put me down on the collection form at school and hadn’t rang the school. Her son had only met me a few times. I showed up at his gate, said his name and without even speaking to him, they just sent him straight to me.
I instantly thought… that’s not good! Whilst I knew I was just doing a favour for a friend, I fully expected them to check who I was or at least check with his mum. They didn’t even ask him if he knew me. As a new parent in the school, his teacher didn’t know who I was and I’d never seen his teacher before. I could’ve been anyone. Similarly, the same friend, has also picked my daughter up on occasions, with nobody questioning her either. Whilst I appreciate her daughter and mine are in the same class, surely somebody should still check that I had authorised her to pick up my daughter?
The school claim they have a system, where parents fill in each others names on a form to allow us to give each other permission to collect our children. Yet neither of us had filled this form in… so how security conscious are the school really?
I have obviously since complained to the school and I’m awaiting a response from the headteacher.
How security conscious is your school?
How can you find out?
Even if your school has a rigorous security policy, have you ever actually checked that they stick to it?
And what about after-school clubs… are those teachers as security conscious as your child’s class teacher?
If you are reading this and you have children of school age and you find these abduction news reports as terrifying as I do, I would suggest you test them to check. Choose somebody you trust, for example a close friend with children in the same school or your own parents, and wait around the corner whilst they try to collect your child from school. If the school allows them to collect your child without question, go into the school and complain.
There are probably some of you sitting there thinking I’m overreacting or being overprotective or a helicopter parent or whatever the current terminology is, but I don’t care. I firmly believe it is better to be safe than sorry and I want to know that my children are safe at school. I want to know that if I get there late one day, that they haven’t allowed a stranger to take my children.
I know that these news stories about attempted abductions are probably rare, but nobody wants to be the victim of one. Lately these horrible stories seem to be on the rise and if this post makes even one school tighten their school pickup policy to protect the children, then it’s worth it.