A Bonners Ferry resident is alerting others in the community that there may have been a "stranger danger" incident Tuesday in south Bonners Ferry in the Funkhouser Street area and to be alert.
The incident involved two children and occurred just after they got off the school bus, she said. The suspect is described as a man who appeared to be in his mid-30s wearing a dark shirt and lime green safety vest. He was driving a white extended cab pickup bearing the logo of a utility company.
"Two small children could have been taken," she said. "He took off when I went outside and started walking over there. Thankfully the kids are okay and we caught the whole thing on tape."
After speaking to a few people in the area, she said it appears the man may have been trolling neighborhood.
Anyone noticing anything suspicious that may constitute stranger danger are encouraged to call 911 and give as much information as you can safely get; description of the individual and the vehicle, including a license number if possible, where the incident occurred, the direction the person suspected was traveling.
If a child is obviously in danger or being forced into a vehicle, call 911 immediately and give what information you can; vehicle type and color, anything that stands out, a license number, a description of the suspect and what happened and direction of travel.
Parents are encouraged to give kids tools to avoid stranger danger.
Teach children to trust their instincts in how to handle situations that make them feel uncomfortable — like what you do if you are at a friend’s house and someone there tries to touch you, or show you inappropriate material — and then role-play the situation with your child.
And it doesn't stop with strangers; 93-percent of childhood sexual abuse is committed by an adult known to the child.
Some basics taught kids can help protect them not only strangers, but anyone who would abuse them:
- Don’t accept rides from strangers — Adults have no business asking a child to get into their car.
- Offenders can look like anyone — A third of abuse perpetrated against minors is committed by another minor; 10 percent of offenders are female.
- Consent is key — Kids need to understand that they control who can and cannot touch their bodies, and they can leave when a situation feels wrong.
- Talk about it — Kids need to practice saying no and telling an adult when someone touches them in an inappropriate manner.
- Back them up — When a child decides they don’t want to be touched, either in a tickle fight or when they meet Aunt Edna, parents need to respect that.