Kidnap scare reported at two international schools
Parents concerned after two girls from schools in Dover were approached by strangers in vans
Two cases of strangers approaching young female students of international schools in the Dover area within a week have got parents worrying whether they were kidnap attempts.
In the more recent incident, two days ago, a teenage girl was walking to Tanglin Trust School at Portsdown Road from one-north MRT station when two people in a white van tried to entice her to get in.
When she ignored them, the woman driver and her companion got out of the van and continued coaxing her.
But she moved away quickly and reported the incident to the management when she reached the school.
"We informed the student's parents and suggested that they made a police report ASAP," a school spokesman told The New Paper in an e-mail reply.
The school also made a police report and asked for higher police presence in the area.
This kidnap scare follows another last Thursday when a middle-school student at the United World College South East Asia (UWCSEA) Dover campus was similarly approached while waiting for a bus in Dover Road.
UWCSEA said in a statement yesterday that the girl was approached by a male driver, who asked her to get into his van.
The middle-school student, who would be aged 11 to 14, ignored him, walked away and informed an adult known to her. Her parents later filed a police report.
The police traced the driver, who assisted in investigations.
A police spokesman yesterday said they had determined that the driver had no ill intent, and the girl's parents have been updated.
TNP understands the driver had offered the girl a lift as it was raining heavily that day.
The police are still investigating the other case.
TNP understands the incidents are unrelated.
The two schools, which are about 2.5km apart, have informed parents and briefed students on safety measures such as not walking alone in the area.
A UWCSEA spokesman said it has also alerted schools in the area and other international schools.
A mother of two boys told TNP she was worried about the kidnap scare when she received an e-mail from Tanglin Trust School on Tuesday about strangers in a van approaching a student.
Declining to be named, the housewife, 40, said she was about to pick up her son, 13, and called him immediately. She stayed on the phone with him as she rushed to the school.
"I was very worried and anxious. I needed to make sure he was safe," she said.
Another parent, an academic in her 40s who also requested anonymity, said she has warned her daughter, aged eight, who takes the school bus to Tanglin Trust School, to be more vigilant.
"I am not very concerned as I am confident in the school's security system. Parents of older children, especially those with teenage daughters, seem to be more worried as their children commute on public transport by themselves," she added.
The Australian International School, Global Indian International School and ISS International School told TNP they have notified parents and students and taken relevant measures after being alerted to the alleged kidnap attempts.
Fairfield Methodist Primary School, in Dover Road, has also informed parents to be vigilant.
Replying to TNP's queries, a Ministry of Education spokesman said measures are in place to safeguard the security and well-being of students and staff in schools.
"There are safety protocols and procedures in place, together with CCTV surveillance systems, gate barriers and security officers," the spokesman added.
"To ensure safety just outside the school compound, schools maintain close partnerships with the neighbourhood police and the community at large.
"School staff and students are reminded to be vigilant and alert the authorities in the event of any suspicious activities or intruders."