Alarm bells at schools after stranger rumours
By PATRIZIA REIMER firstname.lastname@example.org
BALLINA parents have been warned to keep an eye on their children after rumours of a stranger trying to lure primary school students into a car.
The principal of St Francis Xavier Primary School in Ballina sent letters home to parents on Wednesday after hearing stories about a person trying to entice children into a vehicle.
Acting Ballina Police Inspector Scott Bingham said he was unaware of the rumour, but agreed that it was important to be cautious around schools.
Parent Carmen Fleming, whose six-year-old daughter attends St Francis Xaiver Primary School, said yesterday she felt it was better to be safe than sorry.
She said she was glad the school alerted parents, whether the rumour was true or not.
"I prefer to know if there's someone strange lurking around rather than not be aware of it," she said.
"I've told my daughter to stay away from the fence at recess and to tell the teacher if she sees someone come up to the fence.
"But I pick her up from inside the school and when I drop her off I watch her go in."
The principal, Mark Maclean yesterday refused to formally comment on the letter and referred inqui- ries to the Catholic Education Office.
The Catholic Education Office did not respond to The Northern Star's questions about how the rumour started, or whether the police were involved.
Mr Maclean did concede, however, that the information originally came from Ballina Public School which also failed to respond to The Northern Star's inquiries.
The St Francis Xavier letter stated the alleged incident was a good op- portunity to teach children about stranger danger.
The principal has since held a short assembly advising children to be aware of who they talk to, and to keep a safe distance between themselves and anyone in a vehicle.
He has also advised other teachers to be vigilant on playground duty.