Snatch bid on girl a parent's nightmare
The mother of a 12-year-old girl who was grabbed by a man while walking to school in Bangor is to be commended for speaking out about the incident.
By doing so she has alerted other parents to the potential dangers that lurk on our streets and perhaps encouraged them to warn their children to be more aware. It was obviously a frightening incident for the young girl involved. Fortunately, she had noticed the man following her shortly before he launched his attack and was therefore prepared for flight.
Very often young people today - not just schoolchildren - are so engrossed in listening to music or engaged on social media that they pay little attention to what is going on around them.
As the girl's mum said, it does not bear thinking about what might have happened had her daughter not managed to escape and raise the alarm.
What was particularly alarming about the incident is that it happened in broad daylight at a time when other people would be about. It showed how brazen the man involved was.
The young girl was only five minutes away from home when she was confronted by him. Naturally, she was shocked by the incident but did all the right things, running back home and then trying to assist police in apprehending the person involved.
Inevitably, the girl will be apprehensive when out walking alone again, but with the right support and the knowledge that such incidents are extremely rare, hopefully she will be able to put her ordeal behind her.
The incident also creates a dilemma for her parents. It is always a delicate balancing act to know when to give children more independence and hence to learn responsibility.
In this case the girl has been allowed to walk to school in the clear mornings - yesterday after all was the first day of summer - but had been left to school during the dark winter months.
Heavy traffic at the time schools start presents a more common danger to children than attacks by strangers.
The school has also reacted promptly by issuing a warning to students and parents when alerted about the incident. It is imperative that everyone is aware of what can happen on the most innocent of occasions - the morning walk to school.
Anyone with any information which could help identify the man involved should give that immediately to the PSNI.
It could be your child next.