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Unfounded abduction reports caused hysteria, stress

The power of social media caused panic in a nearby community this week and its effects have trickled down into Prince Edward County.
Accounts of an attempted abduction at a Brighton public school were found by Northumberland OPP to be unsubstantiated – but wildly circulated postings by email, Facebook and Twitter created “a lot of hysteria and stress for the community,” said Prince Edward OPP constable Kim Guthrie.

Guthrie said that while she understands the reason the information was circulated by a Brighton citizen who felt validated about his concern, “his information was inaccurate and premature. It would appear he posted this without allowing the investigation to take its course.”
The unfortunate result of the “instant communication” social media postings, Guthrie says, is that it is now affecting Prince Edward County.
“I was at Pinecrest public school yesterday to teach the DARE program and within an hour of me leaving, we received a call from a citizen who had ‘heard’ an officer was at the school alerting them to a potential child lurer in the area,” said Guthrie. “Completely false.”
The initial warning to parents in Brighton and surrounding areas reported an eight-year-old girl tried to lure a four-year-old student to the back fence of the school where a dark-coloured Dodge Caravan was waiting.
A police investigation revealed the students are “twinners” where an older student is paired up with a younger student for the purpose of interaction while playing on the school yard.
The school sent a letter home with students Friday, assuring parents they can feel confident their children are well-supervised.
The OPP’s website contains useful resources, tips and links. Click here for the OPP Crime Prevention Section of “street proofing”.

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