Gardai concerned over ‘inappropriate approaches’ to children

Eugene Phelan


Eugene Phelan

editorial image
GARDAI in Limerick have put parents on alert after another incident in which a young boy was approached by a stranger on the way home from school.

GARDAI in Limerick have put parents on alert after another incident in which a young boy was approached by a stranger on the way home from school.

The latest incident was brought to light by an alert garda who spotted a middle aged man walking with a young teenage boy on O’Connell Street. The man was carrying one of the schoolboy’s bags.

The garda spoke to the man and the boy separately and the man described the schoolboy as a friend and that they had been friends for a number of months. He also stated that he sometimes walked the boy home from school.

“The garda also spoke to the boy and he stated that the man had engaged in some inappropriate conversation with him. The garda brought the boy home and spoke with his parents. The boy was not harmed in any way but the relationship and use of inappropriate conversation is a matter of concern. This incident is being investigated by gardaí from Henry Street,” explained Crime Prevention Officer, Sgt Brian Broderick.

The Henry Street garda stressed the importance of parents speaking to their children about approaches from strangers and that they give clear instruction that approaches of this type are not appropriate and that it is important that they report these incidents immediately to their parents, teachers or to another responsible adult.

Gardaí should also be notified of any incident that either the child or their patents are concerned about.

In recent times gardai were called to investigate a number of incidents in which young boys were reportedly approached by the occupants of a white van.

Rumours spread like wildfire on the internet, in particular on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter at the time, sparking fears amongst the public for their children’s safety over alleged “abduction attempts”.

Supt Dan Keane of Roxboro garda station confirmed that gardai are “actively investigating” two incidents after receiving complaints from the parents of the boys, who were aged around 12 or 13.

The first incident happened at around 5.30pm on September 6 in Fedamore when a white van, possibly a Ford Transit, pulled up alongside a boy. The driver of the van asked him if he wanted a lift. The boy declined the lift and continued to the post office, explained Sgt Brian Broderick, who added that the boy was approached again a short time later.

The second incident took place on September 8, when four youths were walking on Lord Edward Street, near the city centre.

Again, a white van with tinted side windows pulled in and blocked their path. Although the driver of the van rolled down the window he did not speak to any of the youths as they walked passed.

“The driver of the vehicle was described as being about 30 years old, he was thin, had short black hair and wore jeans and a yellow t-shirt. There were two other males in the van,” Said Sgt Broderick.

Supt Keane said both incidents are being treated seriously by gardai and he is appealing to anyone who has information to contact the gardai in confidence.

It is understood other incidents, which were also reported on the internet, have since proven to be false alarms.