8-Year-Old's Disappearance From School Parking Lot Proves We Need a New System

boy shadowThis story makes me shudder with gut-wrenching horror. An 8-year-old girl in Nebraska was dropped off in the parking lot of her school Wednesday morning ... and never made it inside. Witnesses saw Kerra Wilson get out of her stepfather's car at the school's "drop-off" area at 8 a.m., but by 8:15, she was marked absent.

I'm sad and sick with worry, but I'm not surprised.

Too many elementary schools have drop-off and pick-up systems that are dangerous, including the school my own kids attend, and little Kerra's disappearance is proof that something needs to change. Fast.

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It's no big mystery. I know exactly what it is that needs to change: Drop-off and pick-up times need to be much more strictly supervised. There need to be enough adults stationed outside of a school to make sure that every child who gets out of a car enters the school and every child who exits the school leaves with the appropriate person (or gets on the right bus, etc.).

The thing is, there are apparently cameras stationed to film the comings and goings of students at Mitchell Elementary School, where Kerra is a third-grader. But somehow they didn't catch what happened to Kerra. Witness accounts are frustratingly incomplete, too: Some reportedly saw Kerra walk across the street to a Subway sandwich shop after getting dropped off, where she apparently sat at a picnic bench. Others saw her walk back toward the school ... and then, nothing.

If the drop-off procedure was functioning the way it should have been, an adult would have spotted Kerra before she crossed the street to go to Subway and stopped her. Under no circumstances should an 8-year-old child be allowed to leave school property unsupervised!! And people saw her going, so it's not like she slipped away unnoticed.

At my children's school, it's the afternoon pick-up routine that makes me nervous. There are tons of kids leaving at once, and it would be easy to lose some in the chaos. Plus I've seen teachers hand off students to grown-ups NOT on the approved "these people are authorized to pick up my child" list more than once.

I'm praying that Kerra is found safe and sound as soon as possible. And that nothing like this ever happens again.

Do you feel like your kids are safe when you drop them off at school?

 

UPDATE: Since the posting of this piece, Kerra's stepfather, Salvador Carlos Lopez, admitted to killing his 8-year-old stepdaughter. He lied about dropping her off at school (no explanations have been offered regarding witness accounts of Kerra walking across the street). Kerra's body was found by a rancher in a remote area several miles north of her home. Lopez is being charged with first-degree murder.

Image via woodleywonderworks/Flickr

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