Knowledge is power, and teaching children about “stranger danger” could ultimately save their lives. Using a ‘code word’ system that only your family would recognize is an essential way for children to recognize when danger is present. A resourceful 11-year-old girl from Arizona implored similar tactics taught to her by her parents to ward off a strange man who approached her. The girl’s incredibbly fast thinking thwarted a potential kidnapping attempt.
The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office took to Facebook to announce that a potential kidnapping attempt was made in the area. The authorities detailed the events that sparked concern, revealing that a man in a van approached two young children who were walking alone. “At 3:45 p.m., an 11-year-old girl was walking with a friend near a park in the neighborhood when a man, driving a white SUV, pulled up next to them,” the post said. “The man told the girl that her [brother was] in a serious accident and she needed to go with him.”
While many children may have blindly trusted the stranger, the little girl remained calm and tapped into a lesson that her parents had previously taught her. The little girl asked the man what the secret “code word” was in an effort to determine if he was telling the truth. When the man was unable to recite the correct code word, he drove off and left the girl alone. Arizona police praised the girl’s family for properly educating her on what to do if she’s ever approached by a person she doesn’t know. Police credit the family’s code word system for saving the young girl from an apparent kidnap attempt.
Sheriff Mark Lamb credited the savvy elementary schooler’s mom and dad for teaching their daughter the correct way to identify a potential threat. “Kudos to the parents of this child for having a code word and talking to their children about stranger danger,” he said. The Sheriff went on to state that sharing the girl’s story will hopefully bring awareness to other parents. “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.”
The girl’s mother, Brenda James, spoke about the scary situation during a press conference following the incident. It was then that she revealed her daughter called her on the phone to report that a stranger “tried to take her.” The young girl was shaken by the experience. “My daughter called me crying upset and she told me that ‘some guy tried to take her,” said James. “He told her her brother had been in a serious accident and she needed to come home with him.” After attempting to calm down her frantic child, James dropped everything and immediately drove home.
During an interview with Good Morning America, the girl revealed how the strange man reacted when she asked him to recite the ‘code word.’ “He just kind of froze, his face. And drove off,” she said. James noted that the family came up with a secret code word system to help her children escape dangerous situations such as the one her daughter found herself in. X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, was full of comments applauding the girl’s parents. “This mom is to be commended for preparing her daughter,” wrote one user. “Tough conversations need to be had with young children so they know the dangers that surround them. Easier to live in denial, but this open talk saved her daughter’s life.”