CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — School Resource Officers with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office say parents should be aware of where their children are at all times and who they are with.
On Monday afternoon, Janice Hodge took her two grandchildren to the park.
“We go to a lot of different parks all over town,” Hodge said.
Hodge makes sure her five-year-old granddaughter knows about being safe around strangers.
“It is very hard with Olivia, she is very outgoing. She loves to talk to everybody she sees. And we don’t want to totally discourage that, but we try to tell her to only talk to other adults when she is with adults she knows and to come to us and say hey it is okay for us to talk to them,” Hodge said.
And she has help.
“There’s a lot of moms around here at the park. We all kind of watch out for each other, the moms and the nanas and watch out for people who don’t look like they belong there,” Hodge said.
School Resource Officer Gina Raulston, with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office says it is important for kids to be aware of their surroundings.
“If they are going to be without the parent, make sure they have a form of communication, whether it be a cell phone, always let the parents know where they are going to be and who they are going to be with,” Raulson said.
And if a child is in a situation where they feel uncomfortable, Raulston has advice.
“They should they should always go to an adult that they trust or someone in uniform whether it be police or fire or EMS.”
In Hamilton County, cases where children are taken are rare and usually the child knows the person.
“Most of what we see would be a custodial issue where their parents are getting a divorce and it is a weekend issue about whose weekend it would be. But it is rare in that instance that something like that would happen,” Raulston said.
For Hodge, she says she has to keep an eye her grandchildren more so than she did with her own children.
“So unfortunately it is just the world we live in, there are a lot of people who are not very nice.”
Officials say if parents are concerned about who lives in their neighborhood, they can always check the sex offender registry.