Kirkland girl dodges alleged attempted kidnapping by using tips she learned at school

A Kirkland girl avoided an alleged attempted kidnapping on Oct. 30 by asking the stranger a security question she learned in music class.

A Kirkland girl avoided an alleged attempted kidnapping on Oct. 30 by asking the stranger a security question she learned in music class.

The Mark Twain Elementary third-grader told police she was walking alone from the school to her bus in the parking lot by the playground at approximately 1:30 p.m. When she bent over to tie her shoe, she said a male wearing a black winter hat, black leather jacket and jeans approached her, according to the Kirkland police report. The male told the girl he was there to pick her up for her mother. The report did not indicate if the man was in a vehicle or walking.

The girl asked him what her mother’s name was – a security question she learned at school. When the male did not answer, she ran to her school bus, the report continues.

The girl said she has never seen the male before. The girl’s mother told police she didn’t send anyone to pick up her daughter.

Police could not locate any witnesses and the playground area is not monitored by security cameras.

Amanda Dorey, the associate principal at Mark Twain, said this was the first reported incident of suspicious activity at the school this year. She said teachers and volunteers monitor the parking lot after school while children are leaving.

The girl told her mother about the incident late on Oct. 30 and her mother and older sister reported the incident to school officials on Nov. 1.

Dorey sent out an email on Monday notifying parents of the suspicious circumstances, and urging them to speak with their children about safety.

She also praised the girl for following a safety plan.

Lake Washington School District spokesperson Kathryn Reith said the security question the girl asked the suspect is among the kinds of things they learn at school regarding stranger danger.

She said parents should encourage their kids to report anything that happens as quickly as possible.

“It’s a great reminder that the sooner an adult knows, the sooner we can contact police and get to work to make sure kids are safe,” Reith added.

The school district encourages parents to teach their children the following safety tips:

Child safety

Most parents want to educate their children about crime and safety, but they’re not sure how. Here is some information you should discuss with your children. Parents who talk openly with their children will be approachable (“askable”) parents, and children will feel more comfortable in bringing their worries and concerns to them in the future.

Every child should know:

• His or her address and telephone number.

• Where to go in an emergency.

• Not to talk to strangers.

• Never to get into a stranger’s car.

• Never to accept candy or gifts from strangers.

• To always play in safe places.

Tips to help keep your kids safe:

• Keep and regularly update a complete written description of your child. Take a color photograph of your child every six months. Arrange to have your child fingerprinted and keep the fingerprint card in a safe place.

• Know where your child is at all times. Know their friends and be familiar with their daily activities.

• Know what your child is wearing whenever they leave the house. Don’t allow them to wear clothing that has their name or other personal information visible to others. A child is less likely to fear someone who knows his/her name.

• Notice if an adult or teenager is paying an unusual amount of attention to your children or gives them inappropriate or expensive gifts.

• Teach your children to trust their feelings. Let them know it’s okay to say NO to things they feel are wrong. Never belittle any fear or concern your child has, real or imaginary.

• Tell your child that anything that makes him or her uncomfortable or suspicious should be reported immediately to you and to school officials.

• Teach your children that the police are their friends and they can rely on them if they are in trouble.

• Check out the routes your child takes when walking or biking to school — whatever your child’s age.

• Check out school bus or regular bus stop areas if your child uses them. Look for hazardous short cuts that might tempt kids or take them out of public view.

• Agree on safe walking and biking areas.

• Make sure your child travels with others to and from school; kids in groups are generally safer.

Stranger danger information for children

People who look friendly are not always nice. Keep safe from strangers and people you do not know very well with these tips:

• Always tell your parents where you are going..

• Try not to walk anywhere alone. Walk with a friend.

Don’t take shortcuts through the woods, a back street or empty lot.

• Bad people do not always look mean or scary.

• Do not get close to strangers. Make sure you have room to run.

• Don’t tell your name or address to a stranger.

• Never take candy, money or gifts from a stranger.

• Never go with a stranger to help look for a lost pet or play a game.

• Never get into a car with anyone you don’t know.

• If a stranger bothers you, run away and ask an adult for help.

• Know safe places you can go—a police or fire station, the library, a store or a friend’s house.

• If a stranger follows you or grabs for you, yell real loud. Shout, “I don’t know you,” so people know you are in trouble.  Fight back and make as much noise as you can.

• If anyone touches you in a bad way, say “NO.” Tell an adult.

• Tell your parents about places you don’t feel safe.

• Talk to your parents and come up with a secret code word. Never go with anyone unless they know the secret code word.

If you are home alone:

• Know how and when to call 9-1-1.

• Never open the door to a stranger.

• Never tell anyone on the phone you are alone.

• Do not tell callers your name, phone number or address.

• If you don’t like what someone is saying on the phone, hang up right away.