Police dealing with suspicious approaches to children are telling the public to be alert, not alarmed.

The call follows a number of cases in which children have been approached by strangers and asked to either come with them or get into their vehicle.

In other cases, attempts have been made to grab a child.

Police said today that although they could not yet pinpoint the cause of the increase, they did historically notice a jump in reports after increased publicity.

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"The increase in reporting does not necessarily translate to an increase in offending,'' the statement said.

Superintendent Eric Tibbott, the national prevention manager, said child abductions in this county were very rare and that most of those were custodial related.

"In many of the recent cases, police are investigating suspicious approaches rather than attempted abductions,'' he said.

Police are encouraging parents and schools, as well as school communities, to work together to help the situation by speaking to their children about strangers and what to do if they are to ever find themselves in a compromising position.

Families are asked to talk regularly to youngsters about behaviours and actions that are not appropriate or that may make them feel uncomfortable.

Police said its Keeping Ourselves Safe programme in schools put the emphasis on a behaviour-based approach, rather than a person-based approach.

"The stranger danger'' concept was no longer being emphasised by authorities, police said.

"We need kids to identify behaviours that make them feel uncomfortable, unsafe or scared and take action, remove themselves from the situation and tell someone.''

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In the year ending January 31, there were 92 abductions of children aged 0 to 19 years old.

Of those abductions, six of children were taken by people they did not know.

Police praised those youngsters who had reported instances to an adult or a teacher.

As a result, there would be extra assurance patrols around those areas, the statement said.

Advice for parents and caregivers

• Teach your child how to get safely to and from school and other places they go, whether they walk, bike or go on a bus.

• Make clear rules about getting home.

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• Go to school with your child to show them the safest route.

• Teach children to walk together in twos or small groups, not alone.

• Make arrangements if someone is away.

• Meet the parents of children in your area and keep in touch.