SINGAPORE: Two international schools in Singapore have warned parents after female students were approached by strangers and asked to get into a white van on separate occasions within a space of a few days.
In an email seen by Channel NewsAsia, Tanglin Trust School's chief executive Peter Derby-Crook told parents that a student was walking to the school on Portsdown Road on Tuesday (Jan 16) when the incident happened.
Mr Derby-Crook said the student was walking from one-north MRT station at 12.30pm when a white van stopped near her.
Two occupants from the van “tried to entice” her to get in, he said, and despite her ignoring them, they persisted.
“The two occupants got out of the van and continued to entice her but she moved quickly away and arrived at school safely,” he said.
The student reported the incident to the school, which made a police report and requested a higher police presence around the school.
“All parents of Tanglin Trust School were informed of the incident the same afternoon with the suggestion that students should not walk alone in the vicinity of the school but walk with friends,” said Mr Derby-Crook, adding that students were reminded the same day of how to stay safe and what to do if they are approached at any time by a stranger.
UWC SOUTH EAST ASIA STUDENT "APPROACHED": HEAD OF COLLEGE
Mr Derby-Crook's email came on the back of another sent last week which alerted parents to a similar incident along Dover Road on Jan 11 this year, involving a student from another school.
Chris Edwards, the Head of College of UWC South East Asia, sent an email to parents of the school on Jan 12 saying a student had been "approached" while she was on her way home.
"It has been brought to our attention that one of our Middle School students was approached on Dover Road yesterday afternoon, Jan 11, by a man driving a van," he wrote.
"He drove alongside her as she was waiting for the bus and called to her from the road, telling her to get into the van. The student took exactly the right action: She did not respond, walked away in the opposite direction, and informed a known adult."
In responding to Channel NewsAsia's queries, the school's director of Communications and College Affairs Sinéad Collins said that the students and her parents filed a police report.
Apart from informing parents of the incident, the school also informed other schools in the area and fellow international schools.
PARENTS WORRIED FOR SAFETY OF CHILDREN
Parents whose children attend Tanglin Trust School said that they were worried and that such news is “frightening”.
“I spoke to my children about this last night," said a mother whose two sons are students at the school.
"What nerve these people have trying to do something like this when there are security guards in the buildings around."
Another mother whose children aged 13, 11 and nine attend the school, has told them not to wait outside to be fetched. She said her older children have gone home on their own once or twice, but that she has told them not to do so for the time being.
Meanwhile, another mother, who has two daughters and a son in the school said she has reminded them not to respond to strangers, and to walk away.
The women did not want to be named.
Students who spoke to Channel NewsAsia said that since last week, the school has been strict about them leaving school alone - advising them to go in groups.
"I didn't expect this to happen in Singapore," one student said.
The police said that the van driver in one of the incidents has been identified and is assisting with investigations.
In an update on Wednesday evening, the police said that the male driver involved in one of the incidents had "no ill intent".
The other incident, which is unrelated, involved a female driver, they added.
"The police treat such reports seriously. Members of the public are advised not to speculate as investigations are ongoing," the statement said.