Earlier this month as school was letting out, a Lincoln Elementary mom saw a 4-year-old preschooler walking out of school, hand-in-hand, with a man she didn’t recognize. She went up to him and asked who he was, and the stranger dropped the girl’s hand and left, according to a letter that went home to parents.
Then, just eight days later, an 8-year-old boy from neighboring Lighthouse Community Charter School was playing soccer with his classmates at Madison Square Park, downtown, when a man grabbed his wrist and tried to take him away — in front of a bunch of teachers.
This afternoon I talked to Samara Lewis, a social worker whose 6-year-old son goes to Lincoln. “I know there’s no 100 percent-proof plan,” she said.
Still, Lewis says she’s worried about how easy it is for people to access the campus, and she still wonders how a strange man could have walked off with a little girl. She said the play structure at the Lincoln Square Recreation Center, where the kids sometimes play, is close to the street; it’s a public park, and there’s no fence.
“Someone could just grab a child, because it’s right off the street,” Lewis said.
Lewis also said that the school experienced stranger problems last year: a man in the boys bathroom, another in the hallway who, she said, wielded a knife at a teacher before fleeing the campus.
Parents, teachers and students: How safe are your schools from strangers? What safety precautions have worked, and what measures should be considered to protect the kids and the staff from people who have no business on school grounds?
You can read the Tribune story, complete with composite drawings of the two suspects, here. I’d post the drawings on this blog, but they kind of give me the creeps.
image from Paula Wirth’s site at flickr.com/creativecommons