Child Abduction Attempts Prompt Stranger Danger Classes
By Jim Meadows
Reports of two attempted child abductions in Champaign last week hit close to home for the Champaign County chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters. The child involved in one of the incidents happens to be a participant in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. That’s prompted the organization to sponsor two classes on “Stranger Danger” for the public, next month at the Champaign Public Library.
Eric Batsie of Big Brothers Big Sisters says the half-hour classes provided by the Central Illinois Red Cross provide practical information on what to do to stay safe in a potential abduction situation.
"I never realized that a young girl should not have her hair in a ponytail, because that just makes it much easier for someone to grab that ponytail", said Batsie. "You know, a kid should always know a password. That way, if anyone says, oh I’m here on behalf of your mother who fell or something. … If the person doesn’t know the password, the person obviously is not there from the mother, because the mother would have given them the password."
The program is led by Kelly Formoso, who teaches the “Stranger Danger” course for the Red Cross’ Central Illinois chapter. She says she usually finds a receptive audience in the children who take the course. Formoso says her goal is teach children what to do if a stranger approaches --- without being frightening, "because that won't help them, if that situation does occur".
The half-hour "Stranger Danger" classes will be held on Monday, September 17th at the Champaign Public Library. There’s a 6 PM session for pre-schoolers and a 6:30 session for older children. Parents and adult guardians are encouraged to take part on the class.
For free reservations, you can call Big Brothers Big Sisters at 217-355-2227. For information on other “Stranger Danger” classes, contact the Central Illinois Red Cross at 217-351-5861.