The past few days, children have begun to report incidences that involve a stranger offering to take them home in the latter’s car.
To the increasing alarm of parents all over Singapore, the same story crops up frequently this week, with kids being coaxed to get in a stranger’s car on their walk home from school.
Kids tell all; police say driver had no ill intent
According to reports from The Straits Times, the most recently-reported incident of a student being coaxed to ride a vehicle with a stranger happened in December. But it was only reported on Thursday, January 18.
In this particular account, the male student was walking home from Dulwich College in Bukit Batok when a vehicle approached him. He was walking along Farrer Road when the unnamed vehicle’s driver offered a lift.
This report came out because two incidents had been reported this same week.
First reported this week was the instance of a 32-year-old man in a van offering a lift to a female student from UWC South Asia.
The student told police and the school that she was “approached,” and offered a lift home.
Police released the information that the man who offered the student a ride “had no ill intent.” The police also said that the man only wanted to help the student as it was raining.
Another similar event was related later to parents through an email from Tanglin Trust School.
The report from the Straits Times reads, “The second incident involved a female student from Tanglin Trust School in Portsdown Road. She was walking to school on Tuesday (Jan 16) at 12.30pm from one-north MRT station when she was approached by two people in a white van.”
See a text allegedly sent to one of the parents with kids at Tanglin Trust School:
Police said that this Tanglin Trust School event is “unrelated” to the first. Further information showed that the person driving the white van was a woman.
According to a statement released by the police (and found below), the white van that was trying to pick up the female student from Tanglin Trust was an unmarked school bus.
Police said that they take these cases seriously.
Schools take action
While the incidents and the frequency of the reports may be distressing, police have not released any warning or suspected kidnapping trend to the public on these incidents.
The schools involved in these cases have all released emails and notices to parents about child safety and security. Dulwich College’s headmaster Nick Magnus has said that, “As a college we continue to remain vigilant. All of our students have been spoken to in an age-appropriate manner regarding ‘stranger-danger’.”
He also said that the school security team has been notified of the scares.
The two other schools, Tanglin Trust School and UWC have sent letters to parents reminding the latter to remain vigilant.
Ripe for mass hysteria
As more incidents are being reported, parents may expect even more calls and mentions of the same events in the coming days. With the stress and fear that cold be swirling in parents’ minds, this issue may gain a tinge of mass-hysteria.
Singapore, however, is not a stranger to this phenomenon.
In an incident in 2016, the Straits Times said that a school in Kota Bahru in Kelantan reported 100 persons going into fits and being unable to control themselves. This was because of their common reports of seeing a dark figure or spirit attached to their classmates or teachers.
In the 1970’s and 1980’s, The Independent also reported factories and schools were shut down or closed for certain periods because of mass hysteria as well.
Women in a factory had all said that they witnessed a spirit in the factory, which caused them to cry uncontrollably and be completely unaware of their actions.
A school on Aljuneid Road also reported 48 of their students going into trance-like states of three days–which involved eating grass, dancing and staring at nothing.
But what do we do?
Being vigilant and careful should not be the mode as more of these reports surface–this should always be how both children and parents act.
But with these new reports, it’s important for parents to arm their kids with knowledge, confidence, and awareness when handling incidents like this:
- Teach your child to not speak to strangers–unless they actively need help. And these strangers must be policemen, doctors, teachers, nurses or anyone inside a legitimate establishment.
- Track your child’s whereabouts using their phone or smartwatch.
- Show your child that you are calm and in control so they won’t panic or be fearful as well.
- Have your child memorise your phone numbers, address, and the phone numbers of other relatives. If they can, have them memorise the numbers of their teachers and school.
It’s important for both kids and parents to remain vigilant–but to not panic and allow evil elements to operate more freely during chaos!