Vancouver School Board says girl lured from playground despite adequate supervision and safety measures
6-year-old girl taken and sexually assaulted last Wednesday from South Vancouver elementary school playground
The Vancouver School Board is trying to reassure parents about the safety and supervision of their children after a six-year-old girl was lured away from the playground of her elementary school.
Police say the girl was taken from Sexsmith Elementary, sexually assaulted and returned to the schoolyard on Wednesday during school hours. They are still investigating the incident.
"When situations like this take place, we review the protocols. We work closely to ensure that things can be improved so that nothing such as this disturbing incident can happen again at any of our schools," said VSB superintendent Suzanne Hoffman.
As far as she knows, Hoffman said, all the safety protocols were followed at the school the day the incident took place.
There is no specific policy around supervision or required ratio of supervisors to children but, she said, there was an adequate number of staff in the playground on Dec. 5.
"I know that they have plenty of supervision there at the school," she told Stephen Quinn, the host of CBC's The Early Edition.
"We have every confidence in the leadership and the staff that were on the playground."
The VSB has sent a letter to parents to reassure them that safety protocols are in place in schools across Vancouver.
'No one-size-fits-all solution'
Safety and supervision policies vary from school to school in the district, Hoffman said, depending on the specific needs of the site and students.
"There is no one-size-fits-all solution because schools vary greatly," she said.
"The guiding policy would be to look after the safety and well-being of all of our children."
Staff regularly review the protocols, she added, and are looking into the incident at Sexsmith Elementary.
"We need to look into what has allegedly happened at the school to ensure that this never happens again for any children at any of our playgrounds across the VSB," she said.
Some parents are now calling for increased security and for cameras.
"We hope that the school board would allow the school to have [closed-circuit television] around the building," Ron Sareal told CBC at an emergency meeting on Thursday.
Hoffman said the question of cameras has come up before and was dismissed but will be brought up with the school board again.
"A priority for the district is very much to listen to what it is that parents are saying. I know that parents at Sexsmith are incredibly concerned and very worried," she said.
"The notion of cameras is something that we would discuss with our board as we enter 2019."
With files from The Early Edition