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Kids, what should you do if a stranger comes up to you?

After two separate reports of a stranger attempting to get a child into his car, local police departments are asking parents to talk with their kids.

BRAZOS COUNTY, Texas — The College Station and Bryan Police Departments issued a warning Friday after two separate reports of a stranger approaching children have been made.

The first report came in May 11 between 1:30 p.m and 2:30 p.m. A witness reported a man in a white four-door vehicle tried to lure a child over to him. Police said it happened near the intersection of Brook Lane and Eagle Pass Street in Bryan. The man was described as being white with scruffy facial hair.

The second report was made on May 14 between 3:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. A witness said a white man, between 30 and 40 years old, tried to lure a child into his silver or gray four-door vehicle. The man was described as having gray hair. Police said it happened near the intersection of Gilchrist and Ashburn Avenues in College Station.

In both reports, the children ran into their homes and the man drove away.

Parents, what should you do?

While these reports can be scary for both children and parents, it's important to take the time to talk with your children about what they should do in this situation. Many experts suggest you don't teach the old mantra of "stranger danger" because sometimes, it's important for kids to realize they may need the help of a stranger in an emergency.

The police departments of Bryan and College Station suggested teaching kids simple situations and even try role playing situations. Here are a few points to help get you started:

  • Role play with your kids and ask them what they would do if someone said "Can you help me find my lost puppy?" or "Do you want to see some cute kittens in my car?" or "I found some money on the ground. Can you help me find whose it is?" And don't forget this one: "Your mom said it was okay. I already talked to her."
  • Teach kids the following ground rules: Don't accept candy or gifts from a stranger. Don't go anywhere with anyone without your permission. Let kids know adults should never be asking kids for help; they should be asking other adults.
  • Make sure your children learn their names, address, phone number (including area code) and someone they can call in case of an emergency if no one can get in contact with you. Go over using 911.
  • Get a code word that is only shared between you, your child, and an emergency caregiver.
  • Get to know your neighbors. Can your kids go to their house if they need help?
  • If your kids are old enough to stay home, make sure they understand not to tell anyone over the phone or anyone who comes to the door they are home without an adult.

Kids, what should you do?

If someone tries to force you into their car, fight back. Scream. Do anything to draw attention to yourself. If someone approaches you and tries to get you to go with them, run away. Don't worry about being polite! Take action and stay safe! Experts with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said 83% of children who escaped their potential abductors did something like screaming, kicking or pulling away.

  • Say NO to anyone who touches you in a way that makes you fee uncomfortable.
  • Tell a trusted adult if someone has asked you personal questions you are uncomfortable with. Let your trusted adult know if someone exposed themselves or made you feel uneasy, especially if someone told you to keep it a secret or threatened to hurt you if you told. 
  • Always ask your parents for permission to leave the home, your yard or if you are going to another person's home.
  • If a car pulls up next to you and you don't know the car or driver, move away as soon as you can, even if the person looks lost or confused. Remember, adults should be talking to other adults when they need help. Don't worry about being nice or polite!
  • If you are in the store and you can't find your parents, don't walk around looking for them. Go to a employee at the store and ask them to help, or the manager. They can call your parents.

As always, if you see something, say something! Your actions can help save lives and keep you and your loved ones safe.

  • College Station Police: 979-764-3600
  • Texas A&M Police: 979-845-2345
  • Bryan Police: 979-361-3888
  • Brazos County Sheriff's Office: 979-361-4900

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