Bruce and Denise Morcombe urged the St John's students to set up a network of five trusted adults and learn how to call Triple 0 and the Kids Help Line (1800-55-1800)

August 7, 2013

St John’s Lutheran School students learned the importance of three simple words this week: “Recognise, React and Report”,  words that could just one day save their lives.

Bruce and Denise Morcombe – the parents of abducted Sunshine Coast teenager Daniel Morcombe – made a special presentation to students at the school on Wednesday morning.

The couple has visited about 350 schools, mainly in Queensland, since September 2011; the visit to Kingaroy came at the suggestion of one of St John’s students.

Their safety message was simple:

  • Recognise – “If you think something is wrong, it probably is”.  Listen to “body clues”, the ways that your body alerts you to danger, ie goosebumps, butterflies in the tummy, sweating, shaking.  “Recognise that your body clues are telling you that something is not right.”
  • React –  Remove yourself from the danger. Run to a safe place; and then
  • Report – Tell what has happened to someone from your safety network of adults, or to someone in uniform such as police officer. “If someone makes you feel uncomfortable, face-to-face or online, report it to an adult”.

The couple assured the students that most people are good and didn’t want to hurt them, however there were potential dangers out in the world.

“Don’t think that every car driver in the street is an abductor but use your instincts,” Denise said.

Some other suggestions:

  • Carefully go through your “friends” list on Facebook and other social media and delete everyone you don’t know
  • Check all your privacy settings on Facebook so only your friends and family can see what you post
  • Don’t take the “risky” way home along a dark path or across an isolated field just to save a few minutes; stay near houses and shops, where people are out and about
  • If possible, always travel with a friend
  • Plan ahead – select a “meeting spot” in case you become separated from your parents at an event
  • If a car driver asks for directions, call out the answer, never approach the car; if they open the door, run to a safe place
  • Never get into a car with someone who is not authorised to collect you, even if you know them. Organise a family “password”. Only people who know the password can pick you up (“no password, no go”).
  • Set up a trusted network of five adults who you can talk to, at least two of whom are outside the family eg. a teacher, a friend’s parent
  • Always report if someone offers you gifts or money, or make threats to hurt you or someone you know
  • Learn how to ring Triple 0 and the Kids Helpline 1800-55-1800

* * *

Bruce and Denise’s son Daniel was just 13 when he was abducted while waiting for a bus on the Sunshine Coast on December 7, 2003.  

He had decided to catch a bus into Maroochydore to get a haircut and buy some Christmas presents.  Unfortunately, the bus that he was waiting to catch had broken down.

The depot despatched two buses to replace it … one to pick up the passengers from the broken-down bus and then to run express to make up time, and the second to pick up any passengers left at the stops.

Passengers on the first bus reported seeing Daniel try to hail the bus, but because it was running express, it did not stop.

By the time the second bus passed the stop less than two minutes later, Daniel was nowhere to be seen.

Brett Peter Cowan, 43, has been committed to stand trial over the death of Daniel Morcombe. He is charged with murder, child stealing, deprivation of liberty, indecent treatment of a child and interfering with a corpse.

Denise and Bruce Morcombe with the St John's student leaders, vice-captains Shakira Walters and Nicholas Thamm; and school captains Lize Potgieter and Oscar Schmidt
Year 5 students Aliyah Killip and Dane Ellis practice a personal safety message during the Daniel Morcombe Foundation presentation

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