Grande Prairie RCMP are advising parents to discuss “stranger danger” with their children after reports of suspicious activity in Sexsmith and the City of Grande Prairie.
Cpl. Candace Hrdlicka of the Grande Prairie RCMP said no one was harmed as a result of the activity and police are taking a proactive approach to the issue.
“We strongly encourage people to report all of these incidents to their local police so we can look into them further, aside from talking to their kids and having these discussions,” Hrdlicka said.
The RCMP recently received a call and observed social media discussions of suspicious incidents in Sexsmith, she said.
One social media post she referenced was written by a mother who observed a man allegedly videotaping her children.
Hrdlicka said RCMP are also aware of another post in which a mother wrote her children were passing by the Sexsmith Hotel when a stranger offered them money to buy some “goodies.”
Hrdlicka said she has no information about a description of a suspect or suspects, or of an exact number of suspicious incidents.
The RCMP haven’t been notified of similar incidents in any other towns or hamlets, she added.
“But no communities are immune to these types of activities, so we’re asking the public in all of our communities to have these discussions,” she said.
The RCMP are spreading the word by passing safety tips on to municipalities and schools and posting tips on their online platforms, she said.
Officers have also annually visited schools to discuss safety with children personally, but Hrdlicka said COVID-19 has made that difficult this year.
As schools invite RCMP back, the officers will have these discussions with students, she said.
The RCMP’s tips include:
-Teaching children not to go anywhere with anyone without first getting permission from a parent
-Teaching children to always have a friend with them
-Practise scenarios, including asking children what to do if someone approaches them, asks for help or says their parent sent them.
“It’s okay (for children) to be as loud as possible, fight back, shout, kick, and draw attention to the situation if someone tries to take them,” Hrdlicka said.
She said families should have “a general rule” children shouldn’t go with anyone they don’t know without parental permission, even if a stranger says a parent sent them.
“If the child does not know this person and didn’t previously have this discussion with their parents, they need to double check with their parents and not go with this person,” she said.
The RCMP are also asking families to tell children to trust their instincts and pay attention to their surroundings and teach them how to be safe when home alone.
Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News