Institutions in area urge parents to be vigilant

News of two incidents within a week involving strangers allegedly trying to lure international school students has led to schools urging parents to be vigilant about their children's safety.

Fairfield Methodist Primary vice-principal James Chong wrote to parents saying students would be reminded to move away from strangers who approach them, and to shout for help if they or their friends are in danger. Parents were also urged to remind their maids or relatives to pay more attention to anyone loitering in the area.

Mr Chong said the school will be working with the police to step up patrols in the area. Fairfield Methodist Primary is also in Dover, near both international schools.

Other international schools which have sent out letters are Dulwich College in Bukit Batok, the Australian International School in Lorong Chuan and Chatsworth International School, which has campuses in Orchard and Marine Parade. They sent e-mails to parents yesterday.

Chatsworth International said it was aware of "attempted child abductions", and is "being more vigilant than usual". It also told parents to take the necessary steps to minimise risks to their children.

Marketing communications consultant and Fairfield Methodist Primary parent Karen Tan, 46, said the letter from the school "did not make me panic, but put me in a state of heightened awareness".

She typically walks her four children, aged 10 to 17, to school, and fetches her younger daughter, who is in Primary 4, every afternoon. "I will be more alert in doing so, and also tell them that if a stranger asks for help, they can perhaps ask another adult to assist them," Ms Tan said.

Meanwhile, many students from the affected international schools said they were advised by the institutions to be more careful.

Timmy Slaytack, 17, a Year 12 student at Tanglin Trust School, said that the "suspected kidnapping (attempt) was shocking". "The school told us to always walk around in groups, and avoid wearing headphones so we can always hear what is going on," he said.

Madam Wang Shufen, 70, who picks her seven-year-old grandson up from UWC every afternoon, said the alleged kidnapping attempts worried her. "This happens a lot in China and other countries, but I think Singapore is safer," the Chinese national, a retiree, said in Mandarin. Even so, she said "this incident is a good reminder to be vigilant".

• Additional reporting by Gracia Lee and Raffaella Nathan Charles

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2018, with the headline 'Institutions in area urge parents to be vigilant'. Print Edition | Subscribe