Families learn lessons at Stranger Danger class

Published 09/17 2012 10:46PM

Updated 09/18 2012 04:42AM

CHAMPAIGN -- A recent rash of attempted kidnappings has put several communities on alert. It's why Big Brothers Big Sisters of Champaign County and the American Red Cross teamed up to give families a safety lesson.

Dozens of families took part in the free class at the Champaign Public Library. The topic of Stranger Danger is something parents say they already talk about with their kids. But they're always open to a few more safety tips they might not have known.

Watching over kids is a 24/7 job for Sada Johnson. Not only is she a mother of three, she's a bus monitor for Champaign schools.

"It's a lot of kids out here that I have on my bus and other places and I ask them what are you doing for strangers and well I don't know. And if I see him with a puppy I'm going to go with," she said.

Hearing that response worried Johnson, especially since three attempted abductions happened in Champaign last month.

"It could have been my son my daughter or someone I know. There's so many of these incidents, a steady re-occurrence," she said.

That's why her family and many others packed this room to brush up on how kid should react to strangers.

"I kind of try to treat this as a review session hoping that all the kids know exactly what to say, but if they don't we just want to reinforce it," said Kelly Formoso, Red Cross Youth Coordinator.

But it wasn't just a review. Parents walked out knowing safety methods they hadn't tried before.

"The pass code that's very important, that your children have a pass code, only go with a safe adult that has a pass code and they know that pass code," said Kristen Hammer of LeRoy.

Formoso's main message to kids was, "any stranger is not a safe situation and to get away immediately. But if they could, try to remember a license plate, try to remember what the person looked like because that's going to help."

With the help of the Urbana police and fire departments, the Red Cross is now holding Stranger Danger classes at Urbana elementary schools. If parents or organizations want to set up a class of their own, they simply need to call the Red Cross.

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