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13 April 2024

Child abduction attempt has Dubai parents on guard

By Bindu Suresh Rai

Parents across Dubai are vigilant after a school posted of a failed abduction attempt of one of its pupils at a popular mall earlier this week.
Details of the incident were highlighted in a Facebook post by the Jebel Ali Primary School, which identified a mystery ‘blonde woman’s’ involvement and has requested parents to warn their children of ‘stranger danger’.
The full post reads: ‘Dear Parents, unfortunately, there was an incident on 14 January 2014 involving a Jebel Ali student who was almost abducted from the Ductac area of Mall of the Emirates.
“The incident has been reported to Dubai police, however, please be aware a blonde woman was involved.”
The post, which has been signed off by Ann Jones, the Acting Headteacher of JAPS, added: “Please reiterate to your children about ‘stranger danger’.”
Speaking to Emirates 24|7, Jones spoke further of the incident, saying: “The parent involved wishes to remain anonymous but felt the need to inform the school and the community at large to remain vigilant.”
With parents concerned whether the incident occurred during a school trip, Jones further clarified: “No, the school has no involvement in the incident and did not occur during any off-site activities.
“Our involvement is only to the extent of sending out a security alert to parents because those involved approached us and felt the need to ensure the community is aware of what is happening.
“We have been told the authorities are involved and are investigating the matter.”
A spokesperson from Mall of the Emirates issued a written statement in wake of the incident, saying: “The safety of our guests is a priority at Mall of the Emirates, and we ensure that the mall has visible and accessible presence of security.
“In the event of any questionable behaviour, we encourage our visitors to exercise smart judgment and also contact any of our onsite security members for immediate assistance.”
Rachna Goenka, a parent of two, spoke to Emirates 24|7 saying: “This is horrifying news. I wouldn't believe such incidences happen in Dubai. But the school being brave enough to post this means as parents, we too have to remain vigilant.”
Lorraine Hughes responded: “Does it matter if it’s ‘a school trip or family outing’, in a ‘mall’ or elsewhere.
“Just educate/talk to your children. Make them aware that unfortunately, there are some people in the world that are ‘not nice’.”
Father of two, S Sridhar agreed, saying: “I don’t know if the incident occurred on a school trip or otherwise, but I will not stop sending my children to such outings even now.
“I am quite confident, as a school, the authorities take all measures to ensure the children are safe at all times.”
Sridhar also highlighted the importance of teaching the children of ‘stranger danger’ and ensuring they have memorised the phone numbers of both their parents.
He continued: “My daughter is seven years old, and knows that if she is ever lost or uncomfortable by her surroundings, she can call us or ring the police. We have taught her to call them in emergencies.”
JAPS’ headteacher, Jones, further added: “As an educational institution, we do educate our children about personal, social and health, teaching them about their own personal safety and how to behave in such situations.
“And parents need to do the same at home. The parent involved in this incident did the right thing, because she believed it was her duty as a caregiver to ensure people are aware, and more importantly, our children are safe.”
Safety checklist
Anjali Parekh, a mother of two in Dubai, keeps a checklist in their room that highlights safety concerns for the children and their parents.
She said: “Children must be warned of common lines used to lure them, be it free candy, their parent hurt or injured, a cute toy, a lost puppy.
“Sometimes, its simple as asking them to pose for a picture.”
Parekh further added: “Stranger means danger, and the children should know that if they feel uncomfortable or feel something is wrong in a situation, they must run to safety first, then get help.”
The mother also warned parents that it should never been assumed that a maid or nanny is watching their kids at all times. You need to take responsibility of your own children and keep them safe.

(Home page image courtesy Shutterstock)