JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The walk to and from school for children, unless they're supervised, is a vulnerable time. An instructor on the First Coast at the University of North Florida is teaching parents the do's and don't's of safety.
The First Coast has experienced several cases when children and teenagers ended up victims of violence"
- Last October, Somer Thompson was abducted on her way home from school and days later found dead in Georiga landfill.
- Last week, a Westside teenager was sexually attacked walking to the bus stop.
- This week, a student from University Christian who left after school was found dead hours later.
"If you feel uncomfortable at all with anybody, you need to tell somebody else about it and you need to do it quickly," said Greg DiFranza, an instructor at the Institute of Police Technology and Management at UNF.
The father of three, when not teaching law enforcement officers, spends time guiding parents and children on the do's and don'ts of safety.
DiFranza said parents need to stress the importance of awareness. He said children should be aware of their surroundings and know they can say no to an adult.
Beyond that, DiFranza said safety training should not be done just when something bad happens.
"It is not a teaching item every single day, but it is a teaching moment every single day," he said.
Just asking your child a question can achieve that, said DiFranza.
"Ask them if they happened to see anything along the way home," the police instructor said. This is a way to cement in a child's mind the need to be aware of where they are and who they are with.
First Coast News