Stranger danger warnings upgraded


SCHOOLCHILDREN are being given safety briefings in the wake of a string of child abduction attempts across southeast Queensland.

Police, teachers and parents are responding to the threat by upgrading security measures and reinforcing the importance of the "stranger danger" message.

Students have been told they should not leave school alone, should adopt a buddy system and "walk home briskly" after leaving school.

They have been warned not to doorknock alone while seeking sponsorships.

Briefings are being given to students attending Brisbane and Gold Coast schools, where police continue to investigate a growing number of attempted abductions.

On Wednesday, two small boys were allegedly snatched by a woman at Keperra in Brisbane and driven across the city before being released.

The Brisbane Magistrates Court heard allegations that Jodi Ann Lawler, 21, used chocolates to lure the boys, aged 5 and 3, into her car before driving them to her ex-boyfriend's house at Darra. Police said that at one stage, she threatened to chop up the boys.

In the past two months, there have been five child abduction attempts in southeast Queensland.

They were at Varsity Lakes and Elanora on the Gold Coast, Bray Park and Strathpine in Brisbane's north and Forest Lake southwest of the city.

In the Forest Lake incident, a boy, 9, walking home from school was lured towards a car by a man with a bag of lollies before two 13-year-olds walking nearby shouted, scaring off the attacker.

Juvenile aid bureau Detective Senior-Sergeant John Zanco said police had begun visiting primary schools to warn children of safety procedures.

"They will work their way up to the high schools," he said.

Det Sen-Sgt Zanco said police were still seeking information about the attempted abduction of a girl, 15, at Elanora's Schuster Park late last month.

Detectives have released a comfit picture of the attacker, who attempted to drag the girl into bushland. She escaped after poking him in the eyes.

Elanora Primary School principal Mike Kelly said the school had introduced new safety strategies, including briefing children at parades.

Mr Kelly said he had noticed parents were becoming more vigilant.

In May, a Sunday Mail investigation found Queensland children were being targeted in a terrifying series of abduction attempts.

More than 20 predators had struck in eight months, leaving police shocked by their audacity.

Children were approached on their way to school, in shopping centres and even while in the care of a parent.

Queensland Council of Parents and Citizens Associations president Wanda Lambert said the spate of kidnap attempts would prevent complacency.

All security measures should be taken, whether children travel as a group or parents drive them to school, Mrs Lambert said.

An Education Queensland spokesman said state schools were being pro-active in minimising risks, and

working closely with police.



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