Parents are once again questioning where it's safe for their children to play after a man tried to snatch an 8-year-old girl as she played in League City's Challenger Park on Easter.
She got away, but so did he.
This is the time of year when predators become even more dangerous than usual. Lots of kids are headed outside with the nice weather and parents are often distracted. This attempted abduction story may have a happy ending but it serves a scary safety reminder to parents.
"Now it seems like it's every week you hear of something, so it makes you stop and think," said Scott Brown, a concerned parent playing with his kids and grandkids in Challenger Park Monday.
Parents should do more than worry, however. Instead, they should tell kids what to do if faced with a would-be predator.
"They need to do something, either verbally or physically, absolutely," said Jim Baylor, a Rice University police sergeant and instructor with Rape Aggression Defense.
Baylor said that usually the predator will try and lure a child with requests of help finding a pet.
"They have no business asking a child and saying, 'will you help me find my child, will you help me find my dog,'" said Baylor. "They'll use numerous lures, one stacked on top of the other and the child doesn't really have time to process that."
It's easy not to notice someone watching children play. That's why it's even more important for parents to be aware of surroundings. Parents should note anyone watching single children, or small groups of two or three kids. It's also important to make sure each child has a plan should they be approached by a stranger.
"Stay away from them, three to five feet away from them. If they don't know the password get away from them," said Baylor.
By password, Baylor means a word only the child, parents and trusted adults know. Other talking points for parents to discuss with their kids are to make a plan for what the child will do if someone does try to grab them. Explain to kids it's important to fight back or yell if someone tries to grab them. Finally, make sure kids know where they are so if they need to call 911, they can tell the dispatcher an exact location.
In the Challenger park case police are looking for a six foot tall, 200 pound Hispanic man in his 40's or 50's. His most distinguishing characteristic according to police is a tattoo across his forehead. Call League City police if you can help: 281-332-2566.