Springfield, Mass. (WWLP) – Springfield community members and local martial artists held a two-hour seminar to teach children about how to protect themselves from stranger danger.

Event leader, Nikita Perez, was inspired to organize the S.A.F.E (Self Awareness and Family Empowerment) workshop after her daughter’s own experience with a man who tried to lure her away from her home with promises of candy. “She knew exactly what to do in that situation, due to conversations that we’ve had multiple times. I make my kids very aware of the dangers that can happen even in our own community,” Perez said.

This is only one of the reports of men driving around the area trying to entice children away from their homes. Eulogio Rodriguez of Springfield was recently charged with multiple counts of enticing a child under 16 and indecent assault and battery of a child. In one instance, he allegedly offered a bicycle in return for entering his vehicle.

Perez said that she tried to alert community leaders and local schools about the dangers in the area and the need for more seminars like to one held Saturday. “I know that there’s a detective assigned to my case. However, I’ve reached out to multiple community leaders, school leaders, school officials, principals, parent facilitators, and I’ve heard nothing in response to any of my emails or inquiries about getting the word out about this event,” Perez said.

At the workshop, families learn the basics of how to spot stranger danger, then go through a hands-on lesson on how to escape a predator. The girls seemed to be in good spirits throughout the day, enjoying the opportunity to get loud and run around when escaping their practice “kidnapper.” One girl jumped at the opportunity to demonstrate on her mother everything she learned that day, saying, “I learned that if someone grabs me from behind, duck, drop down, grab their leg, and scream as loud as you can. Another one is, if somebody grabs your arm, go down, put your thumb up and run.”

The atmosphere was a stark contrast to the fears that these parents have of what could happen whenever their children are out of their sight. They only hope that the lesson will give their girls some street smarts that could save their lives. Perez plans on making this one of many workshops that will give parents vital resources to protect their little ones.