Comment: This is every parent’s worst nightmare

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WE must always be extremely vigilant when it comes to the safety of our children.

Incidents like the one police are investigating in Moredun, where a man appears to have approached a young girl and tried to persuade her to leave with him in his car, are every parent’s worst nightmare. The girl involved on this occasion was, thankfully, unharmed, and knew exactly what she should do when she felt uncomfortable, heading straight to a responsible adult to explain what had happened. But this will act as a disturbing reminder to parents of the dangers their children do face when they start to venture into the world on their own.

None of us wants our children to grow up as “cotton wool kids”, smothered by over-anxious parents, yet balancing the concern to protect with our children’s need to grow and mature is one of the great challenges of modern parenting. So what can the experts tell us that helps?

Recent research by the charity Parents and Abducted Children Together (Pact) suggests that the kidnapping and abduction of children under 18 is both increasing in the UK and yet still extremely rare. The increase may not be down entirely to tug-of-love cases as the charity found abductions of children by people other than their parents was rising faster than parental abductions. One factor which may be significant is an increased awareness of the dangers in the wake of the Rotherham scandal, where girls as young as 12 were the victims of grooming and sexual abuse. That may have lead to more incidents being reported.

The police stress they are dealing with an isolated incident in Moredun. There may be plenty of scare stories circulating on social media but the police are aware of nothing untoward apart from this. There is no need to panic, but this is another sobering reminder of the importance of preparing our children for the risks they face when they go out alone.