Parents advised to have serious conversation with children on returning home from school safely

Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The man accused of abducting a girl and setting off an Amber Alert in Springfield is now formally facing kidnapping charges. 

While that man is in jail awaiting his next court appearance, a community is still coming to grips with what happened. For many parents, this also means they’re being forced to have difficult conversations with their children, all in an effort to keep them safe.     

“I found the situation horrific,” said William Chapman of Springfield. 

It was a horrific five hours. As soon as it was determined that 11-year-old Charlotte Moccia had been taken, Springfield Police and multiple law enforcement agencies statewide jumped into action. An Amber Alert was issued. 

Every day people in the community banded together to help in the search. Now that Charlotte’s alleged kidnapper is in police custody, this community is attempting to make sense of what happened in hopes of preventing it from happening again. 

Chapman went on to say, “If you’re going to listen to your music you should have at least one earbud out so you can hear your surroundings. And you just want to be mindful.  Don’t take shortcuts.  You know, stay where you can be seen by a crowd.” 

William Chapman of Springfield said he makes a point to talk to his children about safety. Communication is key, he said, adding that, “Be ready to give mom and dad a call letting them know, hey I’m on my way home.” 

All good advice according to the school superintendent of Hampden Charter School of Science where little Charlotte attended school. 

Superintendent Tarkan Topcuoglu is urging parents and guardians to remind their children that it’s better to walk in a group, if you’re approached by a stranger, keep a safe distance and don’t talk to them or take a ride with them, and report any suspicious activity to a trusted adult. 

“We want to be doing our due diligence when it comes to looking out for our own children and children in the community,” Chapman said. 

We looked into the term “stranger danger” and turns out most experts advise against using that phrase with young children. 

They say to use the term “Tricky People,” because that helps kids spot, “sketchy adults” because not all strangers are bad and not all familiar people are good. 

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