(KMOV) -- Police are urging parents to sit down and talk to their children about “Stranger Danger” after 10-year-old Hailey Owens was abducted near her Springfield home earlier this week and found dead hours later.
“I’m going to sit him down and explain the difference between actual police officers or other people who might be coming around,” said Scotty Westmoreland, father of a two-year-old little boy.
Police urge parents to talk to their children every day, especially after new details about little Haley Owens’ abduction were released saying she was literally grabbed and pulled into Craig Michael’s truck.
“I think that keeping personal space is key,” Darla Wertenberg of St. Luke’s hospital said. “If the person is persistent and asks them to come closer to the door or look at something inside the car, they need to get out of that situation. Parents have to emphasize this, but more importantly, they (the children) have to tell an adult, and parents report it to the police.”
Both O’Fallon and Wentzville Police Departments posted messages on their Facebook pages urging parents to use the tragic event in Springfield as an opportunity to remind kids about “Stranger Danger.”
“Not all bad guys look like they’re bad guys,” Officer Erik Lawrenz said. “Children need to know what would be considered a ‘safe stranger.’ Safe strangers are people like police officers, firemen, principals, and teachers. People you would typically go to for help.”
Police urge parents to tell children to run to a public place if they ever feel uncomfortable or walk to school or for parents and children to point out and talk about safe locations, such as a trustworthy neighbor’s house.
Above all, authorities encourage parents to tell their children to constantly be aware of their surroundings.