Danville schools plan assemblies in wake of Champaign incidents
DANVILLE — In response to the recent attempted abductions in the Champaign-Urbana area, Danville police and school district officials are holding special assemblies at all elementary schools this week to talk to kids about being safe.
The Danville district's school resource officers will be making half-hour presentations during all-school assemblies beginning this morning at Liberty and Cannon elementary schools.
Danville Public Safety Director Larry Thomason said parents are strongly encouraged to attend the assemblies at the schools this week. He said students may listen carefully but tend to forget.
"We want parents to reinforce that same message," said Thomason, adding that he has found in recent conversations that some parents have been planning to talk to their kids about how to stay safe, but have not yet. "We are strongly encouraging them to show up for this and become our back up to the program to keep it in their childrens' eyes and minds."
In recent weeks, there have been several reports of attempted child abductions, and one arrest, in the Champaign-Urbana area.
Thomason said he's not aware of any similar incidents in Danville.
"And that's certainly something we want to avoid," he said.
Danville Schools Superintendent Mark Denman said district officials have been paying attention to the incidents in the Champaign-Urbana area, and all the Danville school principals were reminded to be on alert for any possible cases here.
"We are always on the lookout for any potential dangers ... but when there are known cases of sightings or complaints, we take those even more seriously," he said.
Denman said an assembly has not yet been scheduled at the balanced-calendar Northeast Elementary Magnet School, because those students have been on break. But an assembly will be scheduled there, too, once the students return.
Denman said these assemblies will fit in well with the roles of the new middle school resource officers, who are Danville police officers re-assigned this school year to work within South View and North Ridge middle schools. Denman said part of their job description is to work with the elementary feeder schools for South View and North Ridge.
Thomason said the safety programs that the resource officers have prepared will include tips on how to avoid problems.
"We want to teach the children to recognize potentially dangerous situations, not particular types of people," Thomason said. "The officers will be talking about never taking shortcuts or going into isolated areas, as examples, and to say 'no' to free rides or the offer of treats for information or a favor."