Perv stalks kids
PUBLISHED: 12:58 11 February 2010 | UPDATED: 11:28 23 August 2010
NEARLY 4,000 worried parents have joined a Facebook campaign demanding they are better informed of the dangers to their children - following reports of attempted child abductions. Parents across north Kent have joined the group Keep the Schoolchildren of
NEARLY 4,000 worried parents have joined a Facebook campaign demanding they are better informed of the dangers to their children - following reports of attempted child abductions.
Parents across north Kent have joined the group Keep the Schoolchildren of Kent Safe on the social networking site, created to raise awareness of the accostings.
Police renewed an appeal for information about four incidents, believed to be linked, involving children aged eight to 11, in Dartford, Northfleet and Joyden's Wood, between January 13 and 30.
All reports were of a white man in his 30s, driving a silver car, stopping pupils on their way to or from school.
In each case the man drove off without causing harm.
But parents are angry that the education authority, Kent County Council did not alert them all to the dangers.
A KCC spokesperson has said it followed protocol by informing headteachers, in the Dartford and Gravesham boroughs, on January 29, who then decide whether or not to inform parents.
Jacquie Rose founded the group, which had 3,700 members as the Reporter went to press and is calling for a policy change at KCC whereby all parents are instantly notified of any dangers to their children.
Mrs Rose, whose daughter attends Singlewell Primary School in Mackenzie Way, Gravesend, said: "We want everyone to be notified when something like this happens. If the police feel it is necessary to notify the LEA then we feel that is a strong message that they want people to know about this."
Many schools either delayed sending letters to parents or did not send any, reasoning that they don't want to spread panic.
Mrs Rose added: "For them to think that we are going to create panic is absurd. We just want our children to be aware.
We trust our kids to be sensible and the council should trust us to act on the information in a responsible manner."
Kent Police have made the unprecedented move of posting regular updates on the Facebook site, with the first post going up last Saturday (6).
Lee Karnovski, from Gravesend, who co-founded the group, has three children aged seven, 11 and 12, attending schools in the borough.
The 36-year-old said: "[Schools] say they don't want to scaremonger, well do they not think our children will be more scared when they are approached out of the blue by a man like this.
"Of course they're going to be scared, but we have to just accept that."
Colette Jebb, of Leydenhatch Lane, Hextable, whose two grandchildren, both aged 13, attend Hextable school. She said: "I am disgusted at what is happening. It is a bit on the sick side.
"Of course I am very worried for my grandchildren. Most of the time my daughter picks them up, but not all the time.
"Kids are not safe in this world with people like that around. But you have to let them grow up and not keep them hidden in doors.
"I am glad I know what to look out for now, I will keep my eyes open."
Rhiannon Hughes, head of Thamesview School in Thong Lane, Gravesend, did not contact parents until last Monday (8).
But the head at Singlewell Primary School, Michelle Brown, sent out a letter instantly and said 'safeguarding our children is always paramount to us...we would like to work together with parents to keep the children as safe as possible'.
Simon Webb, Children's Service Officer for Dartford and Gravesham, firmly rejected parents' calls for a total policy change at KCC, but said that if there were multiple reports of accostings in the future that seem to be by the same person, schools must be forced to notify parents.
The director of children's charity Kidscape, Claude Knights, said: "Sharing information can be reassuring, it won't just cause panic. Parents and children need to feel confident talking about these things in the open."
Investigating office, Detective Inspector Chris Collier, thanked parents who had been in contact about the accostings, and urged anyone with more information to get in touch.
Call Kent police on 01474 366180, or on 01474 366 098 with direct sightings of suspicious behaviour, or Kent Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.