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'Stranger Danger' Talk Grows Up

July 30, 2009, 9:49 PM by Katie Janssen

Young children may know not to talk to strangers, but older kids need to know the risks too. College students will head back to campus soon, and after news of an attack on a student outside a Los Angeles law school, the "stranger danger" talk is growing up.

Seventeen-year-old Lily Burk was abducted Friday after delivering papers to her mother, who works at a Los Angeles law school. Her abductor wanted money, so she was able to call home twice to get a personal identification number for credit card, but had no way of letting her parents know she was in trouble. Authorities found her body in her car the next day.

The case has college officials across the country urging parents to discuss safety with their kids. Kevin Grebin, director of campus safety at the University of Sioux Falls, spent more than 20 years with the South Dakota Highway Patrol.

"If your personal safety becomes an issue, fight, scream, kick, punch, gouge, do everything you can to protect yourself," Grebin said.

Some speculate if the California teen would've had a code word with her family, she would've been able to communicate she was in trouble without letting her abductor know. Grebin says it's a trick he used while on the Highway Patrol.

"Our trick was we called the officer by our name. So if we were stopped and I observed something in the car, I'd say, 'Hey, Kevin, is everything OK?' He would know there was something unusual we're looking at," Grebin said.

Grebin also says if someone is trying to get your purse or wallet, give it to them.  Throw it in one direction while you run the other way.

"What you have, your possessions are not worth your safety. So we teach from day one, let them have your possessions. If they want your car, let them take it, it's not worth your life," Grebin said.

Grebin says it may be the most important conversation parents can have with their kids, and these measures should be discussed often.

"You want to plan these out. You pray nothing would ever come of it, but those days you can't count on anymore, unfortunately," Grebin said.

The University of Sioux Falls talks with incoming freshmen about campus safety and even holds some self-defense courses.

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