A family shouldn't have to worry about dangerous people's intentions to kidnap their children, but unfortunately they do.
Every year, parents have to hear about the 800,000 kids reported missing, and pray that their child is never one of them.
One family had a close call recently, but luckily their preparation prevented the potential catastrophe, and now the local authorities are warning that more families should consider this same strategy.
The Pinal County Sheriff's Office revealed that on Wednesday, November 7th, a deputy was called to a home to report an attempted luring.
"At 3:45 p.m., a -year-old girl was walking with a friend near a park in the neighborhood when a man, driving a white SUV, pulled up next to them," They posted to Facebook. "The man told the girl that her brothers were in a serious accident and she needed to go with him."
Luckily, the girl was prepared. "The child asked the man what the "code word" was, but he did not know it and drove off."
Code words aren't a new practice, they've been around as long as I can remember, but the problem was that while families heard of them, they didn't often use it in practice. The Sheriff wants that to change.
"Kudos to the parents of this child for having a code word and talking about to their children about stranger danger," Sheriff Mark Lamb said in response to this scary situation. "We hope by putting this out, it will encourage parents to have that conversation and create a plan with their children, so they know what to do if they are in that situation."
Brenda James and her daughter Maddison Raines spoke with Good Morning America about the scary incident, with Maddison herself revealing how she felt afterwards. "I was scared because if I would've hopped in, I didn't know what he would do to me."
It's simple enough to come up with a code word with your kids. Pick something they can remember but won't be too obvious, and then instruct them to ask for the code word before getting in the car with strangers. That way if you ever need to send a babysitter to pick them up, they will know they are safe as long as they ask for the code word.
James revealed that her daughter had actually been encouraging her friends to come up with a code word with their families as well. "[Maddison] can show other kids it's okay to ask that question and not everyone's your friend. I think kids respond more to kids than they do adults, and they can understand they can be brave and smart and run."
It can be a scary conversation to have with your child, but it's one that is clearly important as this clever 10-year-old proved. Sure, she is probably very afraid that there was someone trying to lure her in, but her quick thinking kept her safe.
The police are still on the lookout for the person in question, as children in the area reported that the SUV he was in was spotted multiple times per day circling the park.
"The man covered most of his face with his hand while talking to the girl to conceal any identifying features. He is described as a white male, possibly in his 40s, with a short beard. The SUV was described as possibly similar to a Ford Explorer. We are asking people to be on alert and call PCSO at 520-866-5111 with any information."
The community has seen the post and have been quick to offer up their services as a look out for the SUV, so hopefully they will be able to catch this person soon.