Student Safety Update
A few weeks ago, a stranger approached two female students walking home from Frank Zeek Elementary School. The suspect, a male in a white pick-up truck, made inappropriate sexual comments to the young girls and the girls quickly ran from the scene.
This situation is similar to three incidents that happened in our community last year when strangers approached female students on their way to and from school. I’m happy to report that during the incidences both last year and this year, the girls acted quickly and got away safely.
While I am relieved these students safely escaped these situations, I am extremely concerned about the danger, and I plan to do everything we can to keep our kids safe.
Our officers are paying extra attention to school routes and school bus stops to help prevent this activity from occurring again, and we are working with the Ukiah Unified School District (UUSD) to educate all students about what to do if faced with a dangerous situation.
During the last few weeks, our officers have been working with local self-defense expert Louis Maldonado and UUSD to present “Stranger Danger” training in our elementary and middle schools. This training is fundamental to making sure our kids stay safe. It provides basic dos and don’ts and helps students develop a plan before they find themselves in an uncomfortable or dangerous situation.
Even with this training, Louis Maldonado says it’s really the parents who make the difference in teaching their kids how to remain safe. Parents need to remind their children often how to be safe. Louis says, “This is not about martial arts; anyone can kick or punch. It is about being BRAVE AND CONFIDENT, being able to speak, yell, move, and run. Your student’s voice is their weapon.”
Louis recommends that we, as parents, teach and remind our students who walk to and from school to pay attention so they know what is going on around them. Students should have plans of action to protect themselves in case they are approached or assaulted. They need to know how to use their voices to bring attention to themselves to get help if they are in danger.
In our Stranger Danger training for UUSD students, we are emphasizing the following safety tips that we hope parents will also take time to discuss with their children:
1. Don’t talk to strangers.
2. Be aware of your surroundings.
3. Stick together; there’s safety in numbers.
4. Practice basic self-defense. A swift kick to shins or private parts should get the attention of people in the area.
5. Lock doors, especially if home alone.
If you’d like to know more about this, or get some additional resources to discuss with your children, go to the UPD website and click on the “Missing, Exploited and Child Safety Resources” tab, or contact our School Resource Officer Tony DeLapo at 463-6262 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
YAP Youth Action Party:
This Saturday, September 24, the Mendocino County Youth Project will host its sixth annual Youth Action Party (YAP) from 3 PM to 9 PM in the Alex Thomas Plaza. Last year, more than 800 people attended the event, which offers entertainment by youth talent, live music, youth art, community resource booths, and a focus on educating teens about the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse.
YAP’s goal is to encourage youth to engage in positive and empowering activities in their lives, to leave a lasting impression on those who attend so they make healthy choices for themselves and their community.
The event is designed to have something for every teenager, especially those who are at risk, on probation, in foster care, or need other additional resources. Please tell your teenagers about this great event; it’s free and it really will make a positive difference for our teens.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.