The student, an 11- or 12-year-old girl, ran away before the man stopped speaking. Police were called and the school has notified families of the incident, in an email (below) that includes safety tips for students walking home from school.
The girl was not harmed. Police say they’d like to locate and talk with the van driver.
“We want to identify the individual and speak with him,” said Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage, “but a crime has not occurred.”
Savage said there have been no other reported incidents involving either a van or a suspect that fit the description in this case.
The letter from Swanson Middle School administrators to parents is below.
Dear Parents and Guardians:
We just learned from the Arlington County Police Department that at approximately 3:00 p.m. today, a 12-year-old female student from Swanson Middle School was approached by a man driving a white van. When the man attempted to ask the student a question, she fled to her home. The incident occurred at the intersection of North Carlin Springs Drive and North Park Drive. The suspect is described as a man of American Indian descent, approximately 30 years old.
The student’s mother reported the incident to Arlington County Police and police officers arrived to the scene quickly.
We are grateful that the student was not harmed.
This is a good time for all of us to remind students about some important steps they should always take to ensure their continued safety when they are out in the community, and even take time to role play possible situations with them. Please remind students to:
Always report all incidents immediately to an adult (parent, principal, teacher, resource officer) whenever something occurs that makes them feel unsafe.
- Be aware of their surroundings.
- Don’t wear devices that block their hearing or seeing.
- Avoid talking to, engaging with or answering questions to passersby or strangers.
- Always walk or bicycle with at least one buddy in well-lit areas.
- Use a cell phone, if available, to call for help. (If students have cell phones, make sure that emergency numbers are programmed into the phone so they can be dialed quickly. Also, remind your student that the cell phone should not be used during class time at school.)
Working together, all of us can help to insure that our students have a safe community in which they can continue to grow and learn. Please do not hesitate to call me if you have any questions.