My friend and actress Christi Baus posted this on her page.
Pay attention parents! This could happen at Elitches, Lakeside, Water World or anywhere.
THEME PARK ABDUCTIONS.
CALL the police first, then get security at the park. GET THE POLICE INVOLVED right away!
July 3, 2019
“I’ve not talked about my more-than-the-normal-crazy day at Hersheypark this past Wednesday because it involved a child belonging to close friends… a child who was almost abducted on my watch.
I wanted to respect their family’s privacy. They have now put it out there so I feel comfortable sharing the email I sent to Hershey this morning because it is important for parents to understand the dangers and their rights as parents. After watching the young man’s dad, a police chief, handle the situation, I can assure you that I would handle things much differently if a similar situation occurred in the future.
I honestly did not protect my daughter as well as I should have from those in authority and allowed her to be questioned 8 times. Her words were “Did they all think I was lying?? Were they trying to see if my story would change?” As soon as she told me what had happened, my gut screamed human trafficking, which she and I were immediately on the same page with (my kids have heard that lecture way too many times!). As you’ll read in the letter I sent to Hershey I had to be very firm to get any kind of result.
Here is the letter:
Dear Ms. McGraw,
My name is Sherry Webb. For many years my family has enjoyed Hersheypark as season passholders. Every summer we look forward to weekly trips to the park with my daughters and a carload of their friends!
I am writing to you today because I am very concerned about an incident that happened on our last group trip to the park on Wednesday, July 3, and I would like to discuss it further.
On Wednesday, a little before 12noon, a woman attempted to befriend one of the children in our group while waiting to go down a slide in the Water Works area. She even offered to let him go in front of her, which would have broken up our group. I firmly said no. (Our safety rule for slides is adult or oldest teenager, kids, then adult. This helps to keep us together as a group.) She was waiting for the boy when he came down the slide and then attempted to walk away with him telling him that he would have fun on the slide in another area of the water park. My daughter told her “no, he needs to stay with our group” and a second later the woman grabbed his arm and tried to walk off with him. My teenage daughter yanked him away from the woman. When I came down the slide last, I was greeted by 5 scared young people. This is without a doubt the one of the scariest things that can happen to a child, to a teenager that has to step up to protect younger children and to a group parent.
When the young people explained what happened, I immediately approached the staff person at the Water Works entrance. She literally just stared at me and did not respond at all. I finally asked her if we could talk to security. She replied that “yes, you could find security” but never offered to use the radio on her shoulder to call them! I then approached a woman who appeared to be from the maintenance/cleaning department. She took me seriously but stated that she didn’t know how to get a hold of security and directed us to speak with a manager at Nathan’s. I approached an employee at Nathan’s and asked him to please have a manager page security as a child was almost abducted. The manager came out 5 minutes later and asked me what I needed, I told him but still no security person surfaced. I finally took the five young people to the First Aid building and unfortunately, I had to speak very strongly with the staff on the need for immediate action to get security called.
It took talking to FOUR employees, NOT counting the staff in the First Aid building, and thirty minutes for me to talk to someone in security. THIRTY MINUTES!!! That is absurd!
I am extremely disappointed in the staff in the First Aid building. When the children wanted to change out of their swimsuits, the staff directed them to the changing rooms in the park. After an attempted abduction with a child in our group they told my group of young people that the bathroom in their building was for staff only and that they could leave the adult in the group to go change in the changing rooms!?!
Kyle and the other full-time security staff person were helpful and seemed to take the situation more seriously. I did firmly state that I needed to contact the young man’s father before I would complete the written statement. I then found it quite disturbing that they were not going to call the Derry Township Police because they had not found the woman that had grabbed the child. Thankfully I had contacted the boy’s father, who is a local police chief, as he talked me through working with the Hersheypark security and finally got on the phone with them when they informed me that they could not call the police unless the parent was there. I’m not sure I understand that because the police talked to the young man before the parents arrived at the park. (The Hersheypark security team only took statements from my daughter and I.) I don’t understand the reluctance to call the Derry Township Police as it seems to me that when a crime is attempted the logical thing to do would be to involve the local police.
I was SHOCKED that the security staff wanted to take the young man to the security office WITHOUT the rest of the group. They wanted to take him down and the parents could meet him there. Why on earth would anyone think that taking a child that just went through such an ordeal away from the adult he knows and trusts is a good idea??? I had to refuse to allow our group to be split up several times during this ordeal. I even had to refuse to allow my 17-year-old daughter and the young boy to be taken to a conference room without me!!
The staff at Hersheypark completely dropped the ball and let us down on Wednesday. My group of young people stepped up and showed incredible strength and leadership. But many young people would not have known what to do. Had the young person that was grabbed not been the son of my friend, who is a police chief, I would not have known to push for a call to the local police. I heard of MANY attempted child abductions at Hersheypark last summer and was shocked to hear that the Derry Township Police was not aware of them.
Thank you for your time. I would appreciate if someone would contact me as I would like to know what steps Hersheypark will take to ensure proper staff training for future crisis/emergency situations.”
To the Hershey Park Management as a Grandparent and Health Care provider I am appalled at how your staff handled this extreme situation.
Your specialty is families and fun. I would hope that your management team would take this opportunity as a training experience to prevent anything like this from happening again.
Now this has been made public. How will your park handle this in the future?
Personally if I was visiting your state and knowing what has almost happened, I would shout from the roof tops “Don’t take your kids to Hersey Theme Park”!
How do we stop human trafficking and children from being taken from us?
The Catholic Relief Services published an article about this exact issue. You may want to read it and share with others.
Be aware of your surroundings. Watch people around your group. If someone approaches your children in the group, stop them immediately and tell them to leave the area.
Teach your children how to be aware of strangers. Teach them what to do in case of an emergency situation.
The teenagers in this letter must have been so scared . Acting with bravery and strength, I applaud their parents for raising such great kids.
My prayer is for every child in this world to be safe and that angles would around them and protect them always.
Gain The Advantage,