A school’s support staff can often go unnoticed. But Adrian Young, who worked as a crossing guard, stood out when she stopped a woman attempting to kidnap a girl near her California school. Using her instincts, she was able to save a child’s life.

But the girl also used skills that led to her rescue, and can be taught to other children to protect them from potential threats.

According to KNBC, Young stayed later than usual one day at the Los Angeles elementary school where she worked.


Young told the station:

“For some reason, I could not just leave that day. And I’m glad I didn’t.”

Young, who stands four-foot-eight, saw a woman take hold of an 8-year-old girl’s hand and urge her to “come on, come on” as she was leaving her school, according to police.

Inside Edition reported that Young reportedly heard the girl say:

“She kept saying to me, ‘Please help me, Miss Crossing Guard, please help me.'”

According to KNBC, Young explained that she “just went into mother mode.”

Inside Edition reported that Young instructed the girl to:

“[H]old on to me as tight as she can, because both of us were very small, and the lady was bigger than me.”

The girl followed her instructions, and Young was eventually able to free the child. She decked the woman.

According to Inside Edition, the child’s mother, Sharon Arellano, hugged Young later and told her:

“I’m very thankful for you. If it hadn’t been for her, I don’t know where my daughter would be right now.”

The attempted kidnapper, who was identified as Maria Ramirez, was later arrested and booked on felony kidnap charges.

KNBC reported that Young was honored by the city, and was handed flowers and a certificate acknowledging her heroism by city councilman, Mitch O’Farrell.

O’Farrell said:

“Sometimes superheroes come in small packages. Adrian Young prevented a tragedy because of her diligence, training, awareness, and just because she cares so much about children, she prevented what could’ve been a kidnapping of a child.”

According to KNBC, Young, a mother herself, said that she didn’t save the child for the praise — she was simply doing her job:

“I’m very grateful for all the accolades, but I just did what I felt was right. I felt that if it was my child, I would want someone to protect her. I couldn’t see myself let that little girl be taken.”

Parents entrust school and government workers like Young to ensure that their children are protected. In Young’s case, she did what was necessary, but the young girl also used important skills in that 2016 incident that eased her rescue.

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Here are some skills that parents can teach kids in order to equip them with the knowledge of what to do in potentially unsafe situations with strangers.

According to Anxious Toddlers, it isn’t enough to tell kids to not speak to strangers. Instead, engage in a discussion with children and ask them to define what they think a stranger looks like or how they might behave. Clarify that not all strangers appear scary or unusual; they may seem friendly, familiar, or approachable. Additionally, tell children to follow any instinctual feelings they may have regarding people.

The little girl in the kidnapping scenario was able to articulate to the crossing guard that the woman grabbing her was not her mother. According to the National Crime Prevention Council, it’s critical to help children identify safe strangers whom they can trust to assist them in emergency situations. The NCC shared some examples of safe strangers, which include policemen, crossing guards, teachers, librarians, and firefighters.

Anxious Toddlers also recommends to tell them that if a stranger takes hold of the child, hitting, kicking, screaming or doing anything that would deter the abductor is appropriate behavior in this circumstance.

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The National Crime Prevention Council also points out that children might think that it’s not okay to say “no” to an adult. Describe to children which situations call for them to say “no” without getting in trouble.

Role-playing different scenarios with children is helpful when it comes to teaching them stranger danger skills, so they will know what do to in various situations. Each parent can then gauge what their kids know or what needs practice.

As in the case with Young and the young girl she helped save, the ability to recognize a dangerous situation and knowing what to do can make all the difference when it comes to a potential abduction.

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