Suspected kidnapping at MapleBear turns out to be huge miscommunication
The case involves an elderly man and his grandchild in Maple Bear childcare centre Havelock Road.
The recent viral safety in childcare centre case involving an elderly man suspected of kidnapping his own granddaughter has thankfully turned out to be a misunderstanding.
It all started when a post on Tiong Bahru Village, a community Facebook page, posted the story and requested the public to help identify the man. The page’s administrator suspected that the man could be a potential kidnapper.
This speculation went viral and caught the attention of Singaporeans. However, it turned out to be a huge misunderstanding.
A huge miscommunication and misunderstanding
What really happened was that elderly man visited the MapleBear childcare centre along Havelock Road to pick up his grandchild. The staff at the centre noted that his English was poor, and misunderstood the name of the grandchild.
They brought out a little girl, who did not recognise the elderly man and started crying. However, the man left the childcare centre immediately after and he did not pick up the girl.
On the same day, the police investigated the case and found that there was no malicious intent. The old man was genuinely there to pick up his grandchild, but it turns out that the family maid already picked up the child earlier in the day.
All families related to the case were notified about the case and it was deemed to be a misunderstanding.
Patricia Koh, Chief Executive of MapleBear emphasised that its childcare centres pledged to create a safe, secure and stimulating environment for all children under its care.
The centre has strict standard operating procedures (SOP) involving dismissal times for children, and apologised for the public worry the incident caused. MapleBear has urged the public to contact them should they have any questions or feedback.
Despite the false alarm, the incident brought light to a potential threat. Parents are warned to be more vigilant with their children and to be sure that their children are properly educated in kidnapping.
How to protect your children from kidnapping?
While the Facebook page decided to name and shame the old man before any proof, the dangers of having your child picked up by a stranger is very real.
Most, if not all childcare centres and preschools approved by the Early Childhood Development Agency have existing SOP in place to ensure the safety of the children in your care. However, it doesn’t hurt to take extra care and protect your children from potential kidnappers whether at childcare centres or in public:
1. Yell “No!”
Tell your child there’s nothing if they scream “No” or cry when they don’t recognise the person trying to pick them up from the centre. Tell them that in this scenarios, it’s ok to draw attention to themselves and run towards the childcare centre staff if its really a stranger coming to pick them up.
2. Memorise phone numbers
Try to get your child to memorise both you and your husband’s names, phone number, and the house address by heart just in case anything might go wrong and they might need to tell authorities information like this.
3. Who to approach in an emergency
We always tell our children not to talk to strangers, but you should also let them know who they can can turn to in an emergency when you’re not around – the police, or other families with children, or their teachers in school.
4. Don’t follow someone or enter a car they don’t recognise
Even when the stranger looks like a completely nice person who genuinely is asking him or her for help, your child should know that adults should seek help from other adults, and immediately run to a trusted person if you aren’t around.
5. Go to a specific area if lost
When you travel to somewhere new, tell your child where to meet in case you get separated. They should stay there until you come to pick them up. Landmarks are a great way to help children memorise a gathering spot. Ensure the spot you have chosen is one that is close to a security guard or is well lit with CCTVs monitoring the area.
6. Let you know if someone approaches them
Your children doesn’t need to worry if someone threatens them to stay silent. They should know that no harm will come to them if they tell you the truth about an incident. They can and should be honest, and be ready to tell you anything.
7. Don’t tell anyone where they are
This one is especially for older children entrusted with smartphones and other devices. Don’t post their location on social media, and don’t post their mobile numbers either.