Boy, 7, Missing From Portland Elementary School

Appropriate student supervision at special events is tricky but imperative

A colleague sent me a troubling news story out of Portland, Ore.  A parent reported her seven year old son missing when he failed to return home from school Friday.  The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Department is being assisted by special agents from the FBI in trying to find the boy who was last seen heading towards his classroom at 8:45 a.m. after participating in a science fair at the school. 

Press reports note that authorities have not ruled the case an abduction at this time.  Whether the child wandered off from the school or was abducted, this case highlights the importance of effective student supervision and visitor screening techniques for schools even during special events. 

Though it is challenging to provide adequate security for special events at schools, it is possible to implement some relatively simple strategies to make them safer. It is not uncommon for elementary students to leave school undetected during the school day, and perpetrators of student abductions have previously exploited peak times of visitor traffic to abduct students. 

I recently simulated the abductions of three students from a North Carolina elementary school during a red team assessment funded by the United States Department of Education. I was able to “abduct” all three students quickly and easily within a few minutes of entering the campus in the morning while parents where dropping their children off. 

When I spoke with administrators after the simulation, one of them became very upset because she had cautioned staff about the need for intensive supervision and alertness during that time of the day because a student had actually been abducted from the same school in the exact same manner 15 years ago. As in this case, the school did not notice the boy was missing until the parent called that afternoon when he failed to return home. 

As it turned out the boy had been abducted by his non custodial grandmother and had been transported to Florida before he was reported missing.  Fortunately, the boy in this case was not physically harmed and was recovered quickly.  

Let us pray this child is also recovered unharmed. Additionally, please be vigilant. Much is at stake for those protected by campus safety officials

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About the Author


Michael Dorn serves as the Executive Director of Safe Havens International, a global non profit campus safety center. During his 30 year campus safety career, Michael has served as a university police officer, corporal, sergeant and lieutenant. He served as a school system police chief for ten years before being appointed the lead expert for the nation's largest state government K-20 school safety center. The author of 25 books on school safety, his work has taken him to Central America, Mexico, Canada, Europe, Asia, South Africa and the Middle East. Michael welcomes comments, questions or requests for clarification at Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety magazine.

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