Sunset Elementary School student is approached by stranger

September 30, 2009

By Chantelle Lusebrink

NEW — 3:17 p.m. Sept. 30, 2009

A 9-year-old Sunset Elementary School student was approached by a man in a vehicle he didn’t know while walking to his bus stop at 8:50 a.m. Tuesday.

The student was walking on 182nd Avenue Southeast when a short, white-haired man wearing a black hat and a green jacket asked the boy he’d like a ride in his vehicle up the hill.

When the student said no, the man, driving a dark-green GMC vehicle, drove away.

The student reported the incident to school officials and a Bellevue Police officer interviewed the student and filed a report. The officer patrolled the area for a vehicle fitting that description, but didn’t find one.

A similar incident happened to a Maywood Middle School student Sept. 18 as he was walking to school in the morning. In that instance, the student told the woman who offered him a ride he didn’t need one and the woman drove away.

District officials sent out bulletins via e-mail in both cases to let families know of the incident and make sure students are aware of what they should do when a stranger approaches them.

District officials recommend using these tips to stay safe:

Walk to and from school or other locations in groups.

Use paved walkways, not shortcuts through wooded areas.

Don’t interact with unknown people or animals.

Never give personal information, especially your name, age or address, to strangers.

Don’t use iPods or other music players while walking or waiting outside.

If students do have an encounter with a stranger, district officials recommend using part of the Step Defense Program:

Step back away from the stranger.

Keep a “bubble of safety” of at least 15 feet between you and the stranger. Once you are more than 15 feet away, the chances of him or her re-engaging you are small.

Draw attention to yourself by yelling as loud as you can. Yelling “stranger” rather than “help” lets everyone within earshot know that this is not a game.

Get slippery. Pull your arms into your chest (without crossing them). By keeping your arms close to your torso, you are harder to grab by the arms.

Run to safety — any place where there are other people. First choice is to run to adults. The second choice is to run to children. Never run and hide. You need witnesses.

The rules to running: Look where you are running (not behind you). You are not allowed to get tired until you are safe.

Bite. If a stranger grabs you, fight back. You do not need to become a victim. The best weapon for everyone is biting. The human bite has between 100 pounds and 200 pounds of pressure.

Rules to biting: Step toward the attacker; bite whatever is closest; bite as hard as you can; and don’t stop biting until he or she lets you go. Then, run to safety.

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