On Thursday, two separate families in the Edgewood Subdivision area reported to the Brazil City Police Department incidents involving "two different men" allegedly trying to get children to get inside a gold-colored vehicle.
However, the two children were able to get away and report what happened to their parents.
"I think it's a positive sign that parents are talking to their children about these types of scenarios, which is a good thing," BCPD Police Chief Dave Archer told The Brazil Times.
Archer said local law enforcement officers always try to talk about stranger danger while visiting school children. He expects the recent reports to increase interest in the programs available by the BCPD and the Clay County Sheriff's Department.
"The talks are a great opportunity for us to get the safety message out there," Archer said. "It's also a way for a conversation to get started between parents and their children."
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, parents should start having reassuring, honest, age-appropriate talks with children about their personal safety as soon as possible. However, for many young children identifying exactly who a stranger is -- and understanding and recognizing dangerous situations can involve people they know -- can be difficult.
National Safety Director Nancy McBride recently issued a press release about potentially confusing children by only warning them against "strangers."
Although the term "stranger danger" has universal recognition, the concept is difficult for children to grasp, especially when most child abduction perpetrators are someone the child knows.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Crime Information Center -- a computerized national database of criminal justice information -- reports parental abductions and runaway cases make up the majority of missing children in the United States, with approximately 800,000 children reported missing annually, or nearly 2,185 per day.
Each year, 3,000-5,000 non-family abductions are reported to authorities, most of which are short-term sexually motivated cases. Approximately 200-300 of these cases, or 6 percent, are the most serious cases involving incidents where a child was murdered, ransomed or taken with the intent to keep.
According to McBride, these staggering statistics make it more beneficial for parents to help build their child's confidence and teach them to respond to a potentially dangerous situation, rather than have them looking for a particular type of person.
Some tips parents can use, include:
* Teach children that no one has the right to force, trick or pressure them into doing things they don't want to do,
* Practice safety skills by creating "what if" scenarios. For example: An outing to a mall or the park can serve as a chance for children to practice safety skills, such as checking with you before they go anywhere or do anything and locating adults who can help if they need assistance.
* Be more proactive and supervise children, especially younger children. Children should not be put in the position of making safety choices if they are not old enough or skilled enough to make those choices, and
* Check out adults with access to your children. The more involved parents are in their child's life, the less likely it is a child will seek attention from other, potentially dangerous adults.
Officials also encourage all families to consider creating a safety plan for these types of situations, if parents should ever get separated and then regularly practice what to do. Such a plan should include details like making sure children have some kind of identification, understand how to contact each other, having current pictures of your child, a designated meeting place if you become separated, and/or a discussion of safe places and who to seek help from to go if a child becomes lost in a crowd.
All this information, according to authorities, is a good thing.
"Children are more aware today," Archer said. "And because of this awareness, children, when faced with a dangerous situation, are doing exactly the right thing when this happens."
To report suspicious activity in a neighborhood or information regarding the ongoing investigation into two alleged child abductions Thursday, contact the Brazil City Police Department at 446-2211. To report an alleged child abduction in progress, call 911.
According to the National Crime Prevention Council, parents are one of the greatest influences on children and their "first and best" teachers. As children grow up, they look to their parents to provide guidance, information and nurturing, which is why child abduction is a crime parents can help prevent by educating their children and themselves.
Some tips parents can use to teach a child what they can do if a dangerous situation should occur include:
* Be aware of the surroundings. If someone asks them for help, to do something they don't feel right about or to keep a "special secret," this could be a dangerous situation,
* Trust their instincts. If they feel scared or uncomfortable, they need to understand that is "OK" to yell no as loud as possible and run away to a safe place,
* They also need to immediately tell an adult what has happened,
* Stick with friends, because it's always safer to play in a group then be alone, and
* If invited to go somewhere, offered a gift or someone just wants to talk, a child needs to know they should ask permission from their parents first.
To learn how to talk to children about personal safety, parents can log onto www.mcgruff.org for more kid-friendly information from McGruff the Crime Dog.