BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - It started as a report of a Biloxi student fighting off an alleged kidnapper while walking to school. It turned out the boy made up the story. Now the principal has turned this incident into a "teachable moment."
"We did receive quite a few calls from parents that were concerned about the safety of their children," said Dr. Todd Boucher.
The principal of Popp's Ferry Elementary spent Monday morning reassuring worried parents, after a student reported that a man tried to kidnap him.
Boucher said the nine-year-old boy told his teacher he was walking near some apartments on Pass Road around 8:00 AM, when a man grabbed him from behind and tried to drag him backwards. He also gave a description of the alleged attacker and his truck. The boy then claimed he kicked and fought with the man until he managed to get away.
"There was a lot of confusion as we tried to iron out the details to determine what had happened to the child. We notified the parents and the authorities immediately once we determined this was a criminal act," said Boucher.
Biloxi police interviewed the boy. Investigators said after reviewing surveillance video of the area, the child changed his story and admitted he saw a suspicious person, but the man never approached him.
"It was a very big relief to find out the incident didn't actually happen, but we look at it as a teachable moment, a time to talk to students about safety when they leave school or when they're coming to school," said Boucher.
Boucher said the school takes every complaint seriously and quickly put its safety plan into action.
"It's a great opportunity to sit back and reflect on how we handled the situation and what parents can do to reassure their children that they're safe when they come to school," said Boucher.
The principal said the boy is getting counseling and he's not sure if the child will face any disciplinary action. Police say they don't plan to file any charges in the case.
Principal Boucher said he encourages students to walk to and from school with a buddy or group, report any suspicious activity, and to take advantage of bus transportation if they live outside the half mile radius of the school or have to walk near a busy road. Police say officers try to monitor school zones and bus stops in the mornings and afternoons as best as they can.