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Officials Reinforce Child Safety, Awareness After Tragedy

NIXA, Mo. -- School resource officers across the Ozarks are reinforcing the importance of student safety after a Springfield girl was abducted and killed.
NIXA, Mo. -- School resource officers across the Ozarks are reinforcing the importance of student safety after a Springfield girl was abducted and killed.

"I think we like to think we live in a world where this doesn't happen, but we have to come to the realization that there are people in this world who want to hurt children," Nixa Public Schools resource officer Amanda Ryan said.

Ryan speaks with children often about staying safe.

"I like to reinforce that gut instinct you get that if something isn't right, it probably isn't right and to go with that and that no one will ever fault them for that," she said.

Wednesday, after tragedy, resource officers reminded children who usually walk home from Nixa's Matthews Elementary about being aware of their surroundings and steering clear from strangers.

"Walk with a buddy, don't walk by yourself if it's at all possible," Ryan told the children. "We don't talk to people we don't know."

She said in any situation where a child feels unsafe, there's no time or need to be polite. If the adult exerts physical harm, the child should do whatever he or she can to get away.

"Start screaming. When somebody screams, you look -- people will look. Get somebody's attention. Kick, scream, fight, poke them in the eyes, do whatever you can to get away," Ryan said.

It's a message parents agree with, and one they're encouraged to reinforce at home.

"You can't trust everybody out there. That's your kid, you have to make sure they're safe," parent Ryan Abernathy said.
 
"Unfortunate. This is a horrible reminder of how important this is," Ryan said.
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