Students get primer on stranger safety

RCIPS officer Nettie Bulgin tells John A. Cumber students about the danger of strangers. – Photo: Mark Muckenfuss

LeGae McLean recently got a crash course in avoiding strangers.

Following a report of a young girl who managed to fight back and break free from a man who tried to abduct her March 10 on Up the Hill Road in West Bay, LeGae, a 9-year-old student at Sir John A. Cumber Primary School, says, “My mom said I’m not allowed to go outside without an adult.”

That was one of the strategies Nettie Bulgin talked about with LeGae and her fellow students on Wednesday morning, when she advised the children about keeping themselves safe from strangers that might do them harm.

Ms. Bulgin, an officer with the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, differentiated helpful strangers – primarily those in uniforms – and those they should avoid. She told the students how to keep from putting themselves in situations that might invite a predator to take advantage of them and, if they were confronted or grabbed, how to react, by screaming and fighting.

This is not the first time she has presented this type of program, Ms. Bulgin said, but this talk, and others she has done or has planned, are in response to the March 10 incident.

“I thought, ‘We need to get involved,’” Ms. Bulgin said. “We need to make sure the community is safe, especially the children.”

She spoke with students at Grace Academy earlier in the week and was planning to visit Wesleyan Christian Academy on Wednesday afternoon.

“Eventually, we’d like to go to the preschools,” she said, “and talk not just about stranger danger, but safety in general.”

Year 4 teacher Sarah Crowley said her students are aware of the recent attempted abduction and of the importance of not engaging with strangers.

“It’s something we’ve talked about before,” Ms. Crowley said, “but it’s not something we’ve talked about in depth. Most of them probably don’t think it can happen to them.”

Jason Ricketts, 11, said he once ran into a group of shady characters while taking a shortcut home. He feared they were coming after him, he said, but another adult helped him. He said he thought Ms. Bulgin’s warning about not going into out-of-the-way places alone was a good one.

Joshua Barrett, 8, had a hard time deciding which of Ms. Bulgin’s tips were the best.

“The most important thing was everything,” he said. “It was very helpful.”

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