Schools on Auckland’s North Shore are sticking to police’s safety advice, after a string of reports of strangers approaching children, rather than taking cues from social media.
There have been seven reports of suspicious activity this year within a 10km radius between Beach Haven and Northcote Point. One incident was found to be nothing sinister.
The latest incidents were on Wednesday, April 5 first in the morning when an 11-year-old girl was approached by a man in a white van in Chatswood. The man reportedly asked the girl if she wanted a ride but the girl declined and ran away.
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Later that evening, a scout was approached by a man outside the Beach Haven Scout Hall. When the boy alerted adults, the man could not be found.
The most serious incident occurred on March 29, when a 14-year-old boy described being grabbed by a man with a dragon tattoo on his face in Beach Haven. The boy fought off the man despite suffering several seizures during the incident.
On Friday afternoon, school principals from across the area met to discuss student safety.
Richard Coote, principal of Birkdale Intermediate School, said the schools decided it was best to follow police’s advice.
“A lot of the stuff coming through from social media is very confusing … One incident was reported in vastly different locations,” he said.
“We’ve always taken it very seriously. We just wanted to have a unified approach across the schools, so that things don’t get confusing with social media and other reports coming out.”
When schools were notified of an issue by police, they would notify the community and other schools, and take whatever action police advised, Coote said.
His school was not taking any extra safety measures this week, despite one of its students being approached, because the incident happened a long way from the school, he said.
“We always have duty teachers out at break times and after school. It’s not as though we could have extra patrols.”
All parents had been asked to speak to their children about safety and Mr Coote spoke to pupils at assembly but that was “just generally good advice”, he said.
On Friday, North Shore police advised parents to be alert but not alarmed.
“It is a positive thing that parents and teachers are having conversations with children about safety and, as a result of increased vigilance, we are experiencing an increase in reports of this nature,” Inspector Scott Cunningham said.