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Stranger danger alert at Western Primary School ‘could be over-reaction’
11:01am Tuesday 8th October 2013 in Education
IT was an alert that sparked fear and alarm among parents of children at a Hampshire school.
The head teacher at Western Primary in Winchester sent out letters and emails to worried mums and dads amid reports that a suspicious-looking man wearing an orange hoodie had been seen near the school.
But when police were called in to investigate, concern over the sighting was downgraded to a false alarm – as the man was actually a parent of one of the pupils.
A spokesman said: “Further investigation has identified this man as the father of one of the school pupils who was picking his child up.”
City council Labour leader Chris Pines, a former teacher at Winnall Primary School, said the school took “cautious and sensible” action but that it could be seen as an over-reaction.
He said: “We are taking the care of our children much more to heart nowadays. This problem has always been there; there’s nothing new about it. “We have been telling children about ‘stranger danger’ for years.
“But because of the [Jimmy] Savile stuff it is coming up more and more now and parents are being more cautious. We have to protect our children but if we mollycoddle them then they don’t get that rite of passage of growing up, climbing trees and cutting their knees.”
Martin Tod, councillor for Fulflood, where the school is based, added: “I think people are more nervous than they need to be and we should not forget Winchester is a very safe place to live.
“We want children to be careful but not fearful. We want children who feel safe and not to see danger around every corner. I understand the school has to be protective but we need to get the balance right.”
The school was unavailable for comment.
As reported by the Daily Echo last week, parents were supportive of the school’s actions and said staff handled the situation well.
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