The Safety of Our Children

Parents, please don't take anything for granted...

My daughter attends a charter school in Gilbert, AZ.  This past Tuesday, I received a call from a friend who also has a child attending her school.  She called to tell me that my daughter was crying because her after care bus neglected to pick her up (a separate issue that I've dealt with) and she was upset.  She asked if I wanted her to take my daughter to her after care, since it was right up the street from her home.  I took her up on her offer and we hung up.  I thought about the circumstances for a minute and asked her to give me a call once my daughter had been dropped off and she had a minute to talk so I could ask her exactly what happened...

She approached my daughter when she saw her and asked her what was wrong. She informed her that the bus didn't pick her up.  She then called me.  After she got off of the phone with me, she told one of the outside teachers that she was friends with me and that I said she could take her to after care.  The teacher then told her to go inside to the office and let them know.

POTENTIAL RED FLAG #1: As a teacher of the school, you should escort this person AND my child to the office.  You don't know if this person is telling the truth.  What if she decided to circumvent the office and just take her? I won't even go into the fact that you saw my child crying over to the side and didn't bother to try and find out what was the matter.

My friend took my daughter to the front office, where someone behind the desk was on the phone.  My friend told her the story and the plan and was given a wave of the hand and an "oh, okay" and they were allowed to leave the office.

POTENTIAL RED FLAG #2: You have NO IDEA if this person is telling the truth.  School protocol dictates that you are to check the list of authorized people to pick up my child.  If this person is not on said list (which she is not), you are to call a parent immediately to verify.

The school let my daughter leave with an unauthorized person and did not bother to check one detail.  MY DAUGHTER IS SEVEN.  There are supposed to be protocols in place to prevent children from being abducted.  I am very fortunate that a friend saw her and called me.  This event could have gone VERY BADLY.

I called the Office Manager and went OFF.  I was told that this is not the way things are supposed to go and was given her apologies.  I also sent an e-mail to the Director of the school and told him to call me IMMEDIATELY.  He also gave his apologies and said that the event should never have happened and that he would have the necessary meetings with staff and teachers to ensure this type of thing never happen again.  I only hope that these meetings actually take place, given the fact that it happened right before a school break and nothing bad happened as a result. It's easy to forget abut something like this right before a holiday.

I teach my daughter stranger danger and we review it before every school outing.  We have also told her that even if she is approached by a friend that she should insist that she be able to call her parents to confirm.  It just goes to show that when a child is stressed they very well may forget what they have been taught.  A friend suggested that we come up with a password system.  If anyone tells our children that they are there to pick them up, they ask them for the password.  If they give the correct password, our children know it's okay to go with them.  If they don't, DO NOT LEAVE WITH THEM and find an adult you can trust to tell them. That sounds like a wonderful idea.

I am so thankful that it was my friend that approached her and not someone who wanted to hurt her.  I hear so many stories about children being abducted and horrible things happening to them.  I know of the dangers, but must admit that I have a bit of a "that won't happen to us" mentality.  That stops now.  You leave your children at school thinking that they are completely safe because they tell you that they are, but then their own safety measures are ignored.

Parents, please make sure the people you trust with your children are following their own rules.  Make sure that your child's safety is their #1 priority.  I would hate for something to happen to any of them.  This was not a "scare" for me because I knew where my child was and with whom, but it could've very easily become my worst nightmare.  Needless to say she was unfazed by the time I picked her up in the evening, but I hugged her a little tighter nonetheless.


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