The thought of someone trying to kidnap a child is enough to send most parents into a tailspin. However, rather than being guided by fear, one mom took a simple, proactive step to help her daughter identify bad strangers and good strangers, and it ended up saving her daughter from what could have been a horrific tragedy.
An Arizona 10-year-old is home safe today after she thwarted an attempted kidnapping by asking her would-be kidnapper to tell her “the secret code word.” The unnamed girl was reportedly walking in the park with a friend when a man approached and said her brothers were in a serious accident.
The man was driving a white SUV and told the girl he’d been sent to pick her up, according to ABC 15. But instead, the girl asked him to tell her the code word—a secret word she’d established with her parents so she would know whether or not any stranger was actually a trusted person sent by her parents. The guy didn’t know the word, and he drove off.
Brenda James, the girl’s mother, said she actually introduced the “code word” a few months prior after reading about it online.
“This one time, it saved my daughter’s life,” she told ABC 15.
“Kudos to the parents of this child for having a code word and talking to their children about stranger danger,” Sheriff Mark Lamb said.
Witnesses say the man in the white SUV had been seen circling the park near the north Pecan Creek neighborhood in San Tan Valley several times a day.
Even creepier, officials told ABC 15 that he allegedly covered most of his face with his hand while talking to the girl to conceal identifying features. They’re still searching for a suspect but, in the meantime, they’re encouraging other parents around the country to implement a code word with their own kids.
“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,” said Sheriff Lamb.
This story was originally published on Mom.me sister site CafeMom.