Principals' fear after abduction attempts

By Amy McGillivray


The second attempted abduction of a school girl in a month has Western Bay principals concerned.

Police are hunting for a man who attacked a 13-year-old Tauranga Intermediate School student when she was walking to school some time between 7.15am and 8am on Tuesday.

The teenager told police she was approached by a man, who grabbed her from behind and pulled her towards him near the intersection of Chadwick Rd and Greerton Rd. She managed to break free and run away.

It comes after a man tried to entice an 8-year-old girl into his car as she scootered along Te Okuroa Drive in Papamoa after school on November 6.

Gate Pa School principal Richard Inder said such incidents were always a concern.

"It's always a worry of every school. It's one of those things you can't control.

"It's a reminder for schools and for parents and also for children.

It's just a reminder to us all to keep up that vigilance," he said.

Brookfield Primary School principal and president of the Western Bay of Plenty Principals Association, Robert Hyndman, said all schools did the Keeping Ourselves Safe unit on a regular basis.

"Obviously, that's a concern if there's somebody like that on the loose. It is a big concern for schools and parents," he said. "Schools do teach children about stranger danger, and how to react, and it's really pleasing to hear that the girl acted appropriately."

He said parents needed to talk to their children about how to keep themselves safe and what to do if they were approached.

Where possible, children should be encouraged to join a walking school bus, as it was a much safer way for students to get to school, he said.

Tahatai Coast School principal Jenny Griggs said a letter was sent to parents and staff reminding students how to stay safe, following the Papamoa incident last month.

"We're always just putting the word out there and making sure the kiddies know the guidelines about getting themselves to and from school safely.

"It's a hard one. We don't want to frighten the kids but we need to make sure they know there are people out there that aren't particularly savoury."

Tauranga South police Senior Sergeant Lew Warner said attempts to abduct children were rare.

"We have the odd one but they are quite unusual.

"We don't get them weekly or anything. They are random."

He said students should walk together where possible and immediately approach someone they knew if they became concerned by the behaviour of another person. Parents should also be aware of the route their children took to school.

He said police had received some information from the public regarding Tuesday's attack, which they were investigating.

Officers were keeping an open mind but it did not appear the two recent incidents were related.

"It would appear the descriptions are different and there's no vehicle involved in this one."

The offender is described as a caucasian male, 1.83m (6ft) tall and about 30 years of age. He had light brown hair and was wearing three-quarter length pants and a basketball-type shirt. If anyone has any information, they are asked to phone Tauranga police on (07) 577 4300 or anonymously via CRIMESTOPPERS (0800 555 111).

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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