2013-02-06 / Front Page

NYPD Urges Parents: Protect Kids From Perverts

By Liz Goff

Queens police officials are urging parents to take steps to protect children and young adults who, they said, are “the bull’s eye on the target” of child sex predators.

Cops are urging parents to teach children about the dangers of speaking with strangers – and following them, regardless of the ploy they use to entice youngsters.

The warnings follow several recent incidents in Queens where male strangers approached, lured and flashed young girls on busy local streets – in broad daylight.

Parents who need help with the discussions can turn to officials at the Thomas M. Quinn Funeral Home in Long Island City, who offer a series of discussions and demonstrations through the “Escape School” program sponsored by Quinn parent company, SCI.

The demonstrations, conducted by Quinn Vice President George Stamatiades, offer kids a number of hands-on methods they can use to stop predators from snatching them off the street.

“We tell kids and parents that there are ways to escape from predators,” said Stamatiades. “For example, if someone gets a child in a car they should look to see if there is a key in the ignition. If there isn’t, tear a button off your clothing or find something to jam in the ignition to prevent the predator from driving off.,” Stamatiades said. “Then we tell them to find a way out of the vehicle – and run like the dickens.

“We show kids what and where the ignition is – and we let them find a way to jam it.”

Stamatiades said he has taken the Escape School message to at least 500 youngsters (ages 6-to-13) over the last five years - through demonstrations at schools, library branches and community meetings.

“It’s amazing how kids come up with plans of their own, after listening to what we have to say,” said Stamatiades.

Queens cops said back-to-school preparations should include a visit to a local police precinct, the Queens District Attorney’s Office or other participating firms or agencies that provide free photos and fingerprinting of children.

Parents in Long Island City and Astoria may also take children to the offices of Immigration Advocacy Services at 24-40 Steinway Street to obtain a free Child Identification Kit.

Director Antonio Meloni said his staff will take photos and fingerprint children, then compile all identification data on a chart – and on disc – for parents to hold in case they ever need to provide information to law enforcement agencies.

Meloni, who is running for the City Council seat soon to be vacated by Councilmember Peter Vallone, Jr., said parents should file duplicates at local police precincts as a back-up file. All information should be updated annually to guarantee that parents and police have current photos, along with height, weight and other pertinent information that can be used to identify children, Meloni said.

The free Child Identification services are available at the Steinway Street location on Tuesday and Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Meloni said.

Parents wishing to obtain the services should bring their own photo I.D,, along with a birth certificate and other documents proving they are the child’s legal guardian.

A similar service is available through the Queens District Attorney’s office, said a spokesperson for Queens D.A. Richard Brown.

All Child Identification Kits prepared by the District Attorney’s staff will be duplicated and kept on file for use in tracking missing children, the spokesperson said.

For information call the Queens District Attorney’s Office at 718-286-6400.

Stamatiades said he urges parents who attend Escape School demonstrations to prepare Child Identification Kits for each of their children.

“We are not equipped to provide the services, but we strongly urge parents to create a kit and hold on to it,” Stamatiades said.

“We tell them it is our goal, and the goal of law enforcement, to never use the kit,” said Stamatiades. “But sadly, it is a necessity – a vital tool that parents should create and update on an annual basis.”

For information on Escape School Demonstrations or to schedule a demonstration for your school, civic or community organization call Stamatiades at 718-721-9200.

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