AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — A local mom is urging parents to talk with their kids about stranger danger after she said a registered sex offender approached her young daughter earlier this week.
Shelley Jenkins said on Monday, May 24, a man approached her 9-year-old daughter in their front yard. Both parents were nearby, as Jenkins said she was inside working on cooking dinner, and her husband was changing after getting home from work.
Both had greeted the man on the way into the house.
“She was swinging on the hammock and then I stepped right back over to the window,” Jenkins said, noting the man moved around their vehicle and closer to their daughter. “…And then he starts talking to my daughter.”
Jenkins said the man never came onto their property. She had been watching her daughter from the window, noting the interaction only lasted about a minute. The Jenkins were aware of one registered sex offender a couple of houses over but did not know this man was as well. They ultimately decided to report the incident to the police.
“I said, ‘I need you to tell the officers,” Jenkins said, recalling her talk with her daughter. “Well, apparently, then the man had asked her to go with him to his house, which was two doors down and he would give her a coke and candy, and that was at the point where she shook her head and she said, ‘No, I can’t.'”
According to Jenkins, they regularly teach their kids not to talk to strangers alone.
“I said, ‘Why did you talk to him?’ and she said, ‘Well, I didn’t want to be mean,’ and that’s kind of hard to teach young children because, you know, we try to teach our children to be kind,” she continued.
The Jenkins later learned the man was a registered sex offender. Now, they are urging other parents to talk with their kids about when it is and is not okay to talk to strangers.
“As parents, we have to be more, more vigilant and we have to just protect our kids,” Jenkins said.
Amarillo Police Department Sgt. Carla Burr said reminders about stranger danger are important for kids, but the community needs to step up too.
“Unfortunately, there are a lot of registered sex offenders in Amarillo. So, this could happen in any neighborhood in our town,” Sgt. Burr said. “The thing we want to focus on is that parents, teachers, other adults, everybody, that we’re all looking out for kids in our community and making sure that if we see something, we say something.”
Sgt. Burr said APD is investigating the incident Jenkins reported and due process will be followed.
She also said parents need to know what to do in situations like this.
“I think what this mom did was a great example of how to handle it. First thing first, make sure the kid’s okay. Second, call the police and make a police report, and then, you know, if you want to get on social media and put it out there to protect your neighbors, fine. But please do it in that order because if you don’t let us know, we can’t help,” Sgt. Burr continued.
Sgt. Burr said if someone sees what appears to be inappropriate behavior, it can be helpful to call it out. Still, she said the best course of action is to call police, especially since not everyone’s intention is to hurt kids.
To see registered sex offenders anywhere in Texas, click here to see the Texas Department of Public Safety’s registered sex offenders page.
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