Parents, activists and schools unite against incidents victimizing school children

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Memphis Police are investigating at least five separate incidents involving kidnapping or groping of children on their way to and from school in the last two weeks. The incidents occurred in Hickory Hill, Orange Mound and South Memphis, police said.

"A guy put a gun to the back of the head and said, 'Don’t say nothing. A car pulled up. They put him in the car," said the father of the young man, 17, who police said was kidnapped on his way home on Lake View Trail near Knight Arnold.

“He grabbed her from behind and pulled her hair out because she has a weave in," said Cynthia Trotter, mother of a 13-year-old victim of an attempted kidnapping in Orange Mound Wednesday.

The girl's school, Aspire Hanley, sent a letter home to parents about the incident Friday. They said they were working with police and wanted parents to encourage kids to walk to in groups.

"Since this happened my uncle took her this morning and picked her up this evening. Hopefully we won't be letting her walk anymore after this happened," Trotter said.

Trotter doesn't have a car so finding a ride for her daughter can be tough. Other parents around the city have similar situations.

“It's hard because some parents leave and go to work before the kids go to school," said Pastor Charlie Caswell with Union Grove Baptist Church in Frayser. "So it’s the kids’ responsibility to get there. So that’s the importance of church and the community as a whole. To any neighbors, if you can take a child to school, see a child walking, helping in that capacity can help out efforts.”

He has organized two community trainings in the next week to reinforce that message. On Nov. 4 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Greater Imani Church, Caswell will help other Mid-South communities learn to form neighborhood watches and work together on safety.

"We've been working with police, pastors, politicians, parents, principals and the proprietors to provide a safe zone around the neighborhoods," he said.

He'll hold another training for Memphians at the Ed Rice community center on Nov. 7.