KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Almost 2,200 American kids are reported missing every day, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a non-profit group that tracks and assists with the rescue of abducted children.
In Platte County, educators and police are searching for new ways to protect kids from “stranger danger,” after a recent string of incidents in their community.
On Tuesday, administrators from the Park Hill School District met with local law enforcement members. A working lunch was used to share ideas about how educators and police can work together to keep children safe.
The Park Hill School District has seen four potential child abductions within the past year, including a near-abduction from November 12th, when a man grabbed a 13-year old girl at a Riverside bus stop and tried to drag her into the woods nearby.
A good Samaritan saw the whole thing, yelled at the man, and the would-be abductor ran away.
“We’re hoping to come up with ideas,” said Nicole Kirby, Park Hill Schools spokesperson. “We’re looking for some proactive steps that we can use to make sure our kids are safer out there when they’re waiting at bus stops and out in the community.”
Dan Watts isn’t only a Kansas City Missouri Police officer – he’s also a father of two kids. His department deals firsthand with ‘stranger danger’ incidents, and he says working together will only help everyone involved.
“The children are the reason we’re here,” Watts said. “Our goal today is to make sure we do all we can do, and brainstorm and see if we can come up with something we’re missing.”
Police say parents can play the biggest role in preventing child abductions, even while kids are away from home and attending school during the day. Teaching the little ones to remove themselves from threatening situations is the best start, according to Watts.
“You can’t do enough to prevent this kind of stuff,” Watts added. “There are bad people out there who want to do bad things. We do all we can to address that.”