Catholic students warned of iPod personal safety risk

Children at Sydney's Catholic schools have been warned off walking home with "loud music blaring in their ears" as part of radical safety measures against the city's spate of attempted child abductions.

The Sun-Herald reported yesterday that the move was prompted by the attempted abduction of a 12-year-old boy from Mosman's Sacred Heart Primary School last weekend. The boy was chased over several blocks by a man in a car after becoming separated from an after-school activity.

The Catholic Education Office (CEO) confirmed to the paper that it has circulated a memo to all its schools asking that they implement a series of new strategies to combat the threat of a student being grabbed.

These include the introduction of so-called "walking buses" which involve a roster of volunteer parents walking children to and from their doorsteps.

The memo, addressed to "All Primary and Secondary Principals and Assistant Principals", advises that children should no longer "walk home with loud music in their ears as they may not be attentive to the actions of people and vehicles around them", later adding: "If necessary, review school security arrangements."

CEO spokeswoman Carolyn Hadley confirmed she had been made aware of the latest incident involving a Sacred Heart student.

"The suggested strategies are designed to help parents be vigilant and aware," she said.

Sacred Heart acting principal Rosemary De Bono sent a letter home with every student on Wednesday, pleading with parents to "speak to your children" after the incident involving one of her pupils came to light on Monday.

The Sun-Herald understands the boy was asked into a car by a stranger. When he declined and continued, the predator pursued him for several blocks before fleeing.

Principal's sad warning: don't let your kids walk home alone (The Sun-Herald 14/8/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Education Office Sydney

Priests and principals meet (Catholic Leader 14/8/05)

15 Aug 2005