The parents of a young Arizona girl are being praised by police for training her how to deal with “stranger danger” after she asked a guy who approached her for a “code word” when he tried to lure her into his vehicle.
One of most parents’ biggest fears is that their children will not return home from school. And they’re afraid for good reason. Every year, 460,000 children are reported missing. 5,000 of them have been abducted.
Brenda James didn’t want her child to be a statistic like that.
Her children and her had a discussion. They devised a strategy to ensure that they do not associate with persons they are not supposed to associate with. She came up with the concept after reading an article about code phrases.
She said in an interview: “They know who can pick them up and who can’t. But there’s always that special situation where there might be somebody they don’t know or don’t know well, so that’s why we came up with a code word.”
On a Wednesday afternoon, Brenda’s greatest dread came true.
Maddison, her daughter, was out walking with a friend near a park. Then a guy approached them from behind.
“The man told the girl that her [brother was] in a serious accident and she needed to go with him,” according to the police.
Even though she was terrified, the small girl was able to think clearly. Maddison didn’t just accept his offer and go with him. Despite her concern for her brother, she initially inquired of the guy about the code word.
And when the man heard that inquiry, he stopped for a moment before driving away. Something awful may have happened to her if it hadn’t been for the code word.
Maddison then dialed her mother’s number.
“My daughter called me crying upset and she told me that some guy tried to take her,” James explained. “He told her his brother had been in a serious accident and she needed to come home with him,” she added.
Fortunately, her daughter did not suffer any harm. She was able to avoid being kidnapped. The girl’s parents were lauded by the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office for educating her in how to deal with the dangers of being contacted by a stranger.
Sheriff Mark Lamb commented, “The mother of this child did an awesome job teaching a code word to her child, and that potentially saved that girl’s life.”
They’re urging other parents to follow their lead.
“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,” he said.
Numerous children claim to have seen the man driving around the neighborhood several times a day.
Because he covered much of his face with his hand, it was difficult to get a detailed drawing of him. He did it to hide any distinguishing characteristics. The man, though, was characterized as being in his 40s based on the police investigation. He had a short beard and was driving something that looked like a Ford Explorer.
Watch Maddison’s interview below to learn more about her terrifying incident and how she used a code word!