Police officers create video to teach Lakota students ‘Stranger Danger’

Now that seven-minute video, a mix of animation and live action, is making the rounds in Lakota Local School District’s West Chester Twp. schools.

The video features Safety Pup, a character for the National Child Safety Council who is well-known to today’s elementary school students, asking questions of school resource officer Michael Bruce.

In the video, Bruce explains Stranger Danger, tells students how to tell teachers and police officers from visitors at school and emphasizes that strangers aren’t always a scary-looking person driving a battered car.

“Stranger Danger could look like anybody,” Bruce says in the video. “Stranger Danger could look just like your friend’s mom or dad or their grandparents. It can look like just a very friendly person. They don’t always look big and scary and drive ugly cars. Stranger Danger is just somebody that we don’t know.”

The video then poses various scenarios children may encounter and how to handle them, including hitting an adult to escape abduction.

“You can do whatever you have to do to get home safely,” Bruce said.

It also details how teachers and students can use ALICE — alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate — to deal with Stranger Danger in a school.

Officer Michelle Berling said she and Officer Bruce initially sought to find a video online that would hold the attention of students in kindergarten through third grade, but came up empty-handed and decided to make their own with the assistance of the township’s Integrated Multimedia & Marketing staff.

Berling said the video is done in a way that’s age appropriate.

“It’s short, it’s entertaining for them, it’s got Safety Pup in there running out of the classroom with them so then these kids who are watching it can see a fun element in it,” she said.

The video has already been shown at Hopewell Elementary and at Union Elementary. It’s next scheduled to be shown Sept. 17 at Adena and Freedom elementaries, Berling said.

Union Elementary Principal Ben Brown said the video was clean, concise and a “first-class” production.

“I was impressed,” he said. “It got the key ingredients of safety to our children in a developmentally appropriate way and opened up the door for some good talking points and conversation with not only the West Chester police partnership we have, but our staff and our kids. If we’re going to a have a true culture and security, it starts by having a good dialogue about it.”

Brown also praised the video as a “nice upgrade” to the typical assemblies held for students, as it was more multisensory and kept students more engaged.

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