Parents contacted after stranger spotted: Whispering Pines principal says student safety is number 1

Principal says school police are involved

BOCA RATON, Fla. - School administrators at Whispering Pines Elementary and Verde Elementary sent letters home to parents in response to a WPTV news story about a man allegedly luring children on their way home from school.

Two school children, an 11-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl, reported a man in a gold car followed them home in January. Both children ran from the car and were not harmed. No arrests have been made.

Now schools want parents to know they are "aware of the situation and in communication with School Police regarding this safety concern."

Whispering Pines Principal Barbara Riemer wrote to parents:

We are encouraging you to speak with your child about taking appropriate safety measures when going to and coming home from school. Please remind them that they should never speak with someone they don't know and find a trusted adult in the case of an emergency.

"Even if it seems like it's over cautious, I'd rather be over cautious then have something happen an think, oh I should have," said Riemer.

Parents seem to be listening, even the ones who pick their kids up from school.

"I tell her listen, don't get in the car with strangers, if someone comes up to you in a car to you and I told her what was going on, just so she was aware of it," said Joe Falcone, who has a daughter in second grade at Whispering Pines.

That has been the mission of the KidSafe Foundation in Boca Raton for five years. 

"What we learn from people who abduct children is that they look for easy targets. So if we tell your child to take 5 steps back they're being aware of their personal space and they're a harder target for that person," said Sally Berenzweig of KidSafe.

She urges parents not to wait for something to happen, even a report like this, to talk to their kids again.

"Make it a part of every time your child leaves the house to say, what are the safety rules we have?" said Berenzweig.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports that 7,000 attempted child abductions failed in the last eight years, all because children knew what to do.

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