Evansdale Police Chief Kent Smock has always encouraged parents to have the "stranger danger" conversation with their kids, but after last summer's situation with Lyric Cook and Elizabeth Collins, he says there are "dangers" out there even in a small town.
The two cousins were abducted last summer while riding their bikes near Meyers Lake in Evansdale. Several months later, their bodies were found at 7 Bridges Park in Bremer County.
As the weather gets warmer and kids return outside, the Evansdale Police Department wants to make sure parents and kids are safe. Smock is offering tips for parents when talking with their children.
First he suggests for parents to tell their children to never talk to strangers and never accept gifts from them. Children, he says, should always try to play in groups and in open areas.
He says to tell children, if someone does approach them, make sure they know to "refuse and resist" while making as much noise as possible.
Finally, when playing outside, make sure children check in on a regular basis.
Smock hopes this helps when parents approach the "stranger danger" conversation with their kids.
He says last summer was difficult losing Lyric and Elizabeth, but it serves as a reality that something like this could happen.
"This was a very unique situation with those two girls, and hopefully one that will come to resolution here shortly -- and I don't know that (it) will, but we are certainly hopeful," said Smock. "But it also emphasizes the fact that these things can happen even in a small town."
Smock emphasized people should not be scared to let their children play outside. He said it's important for kids to remember to use common sense.
If children feel uncomfortable, tell them to listen to those feelings and go to a safe place.
"I don't think people should be scared -- I certainly don't advocate that," Smock said. "I think we want to learn a lesson from last year. We want to be careful, we want to be cautious, but I don't think there's a need for parents to be scared. You certainly don't need to keep your kids indoors."
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