Parents volunteering for new plan to keep West Seattle students safe with block watch program
SEATTLE – There’s a new plan to fight back after several school kids have been followed by suspicious men, or even grabbed, on their way to school.
The incidents have taken place in West Seattle over the past week. Seattle Public Schools is now asking parents to volunteer to help kids make it to school safely.
The plan is all about high visibility, with a few dozen volunteers in bright yellow sweatshirts placed around the area keeping a close watch on kids walking to and from school.
“We have parents coming to us saying, ‘How can I help? How can I keep my kid and other kids safe?’” said Stacy Howard, a spokeswoman for Seattle Public Schools.
In just the past week, two students were allegedly grabbed by strangers while walking to schools in West Seattle.
On Tuesday, a female student said a stranger wrapped his hands around her near Denny Middle, but she struggled and got away. Then on Thursday, another girl said she was groped by a stranger near Madison Middle. Those are just the latest incidents to rattle West Seattle parents.
“We’ve had approximately, I’d say, a dozen incidents just since the beginning of the school year, ranging from alleged attempts of luring, groping, assault,” said Howard.
The district plans to scatter the volunteers around high-traffic areas where kids usually walk.
So far, only around 10 volunteers have signed up for the program and they need twice as many. The Seattle Police Department will train the volunteers in what to look for and how to react.
Denny Middle PTSA President Catherine Arnold said parents just want to be part of a solution that makes kids and families feel safe.
“It’s an empowering moment, it takes a village,” she said. “It’s up to us to educate our scholars about the problems out there and to also take action, that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Those interested in volunteering should call Denny Middle at 206-252-9000 or send an email to the principal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Arnold hopes to have the program up and running before the end of the school year.