Klaas to speak at Keeping Kids Safe Festival
Maybe it was coincidence that in the past month, Nevada County has seen two reports of attempted abductions of children on their way home from school.
But Marc Klaas, whose daughter Polly was kidnapped and murdered in 1993, knows that abduction is a threat that lurks everywhere.
Klaas, now a national advocate for missing children, will again be the keynote speaker at an all-day fair Saturday in Grass Valley dedicated to children’s safety issues.
“It’s my calling,” he said Thursday in a telephone interview. “My work continues to help build Polly’s legacy, and it helps children.”
The second annual Keeping Kids Safe Festival is hosted by the Beam Easy Living Center, at 422 Henderson St. The festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
Children will be entertained by a petting zoo, face painting, games, crafts and music. Food and drinks will be provided, as well, all at no cost.
There will be contests, including a raffle for a bicycle, Sacramento Kings tickets and other prizes. Kids and parents will be able to meet Indianapolis 500 driver Sarah Fisher, local law enforcement officers and firefighters, as well as Klaas.
But the real purpose of the festivities will be to spread the message of keeping children safe and out of harm’s way. Klaas runs the KlaasKids Foundation, which offers free digital fingerprinting and photo identification cards to parents. Since 1996, 1 million children have been fingerprinted with the help of Klaas’ foundation.
“We are giving parents a way to engage their kids in dialogue about their safety,” Klaas said.
At the fair, children will be able to get digital fingerprints for free.
“If a child is kidnapped, this gives the parent a document they can hand over to law enforcement,” Klaas said.
Kits will also be given out to parents with tips on collecting DNA samples from children using household items and a tip sheet on what to do if children are taken from the home – and how to prevent such things from happening.
“We can’t let our guard down,” said Brian O’Brien, the Beam Center’s director of sales.
O’Brien said that child abductions can happen anywhere and that it is vital for police to have as much information on children as possible if a child goes missing.
“The Marc Klaas program does that,” he said. “It was a huge success last year; we fingerprinted 1,000 kids.”
On April 5, an 11-year-old south county girl reportedly was approached by a man near a bus stop and declined when he offered her a ride. On March 24, a 9-year-old girl said she was approached by two men outside Lyman Gilmore Middle School, but she escaped when one of the men allegedly tried to grab her.
Know and go
What: Keeping Kids Safe Festival
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday
Where: Beam Easy Living Center, 422 Henderson St., Grass Valley
On the Net
KlaasKids Foundation for Children
• http://www.klaaskids.org (English)
• http://www.klaaskidsespanol.org (Spanish)
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