SAN ANTONIO – It’s not the kind of call San Antonio police answer every day, but twice this week they’ve had an unusual situation on their hands.
On two different occasions, police have had to work to reunite parents with their young children who were found alone wandering along dark, dangerous streets.
The latest incident happened around 5 a.m. Thursday when police got a call from a passerby.
Police said that person found a 5-year-old girl walking near the access road of Loop 410 east of Harry Wurzbach Road.
Officers at the scene said they were unable to communicate with the tearful girl, who did not appear to understand English or Spanish.
On Monday morning, another passerby called police after noticing a 4-year-old boy on busy NW 36th Street near Brandywine.
Officers took custody of the boy around 1:30 a.m. However, they said no one reported him missing until about six hours later.
Police said the boy had wandered from his home about three blocks away.
“It’s scary, right? Parents and caretakers have to be on call all the time and that’s hard to do in the middle of the night,” said Katrina Campbell, CEO of The Brighton Center.
Campbell’s organization offers numerous services to children in the community, including childcare.
She said it is easy for children, especially younger ones, to slip away from adults in an instant.
“Children are curious. Children want to play,” she said. “They are trying to engage in things around them and parents are busy.”
Trying to prevent little ones from slipping out of their homes requires a plan on the part of parents. However, it should be based on the individual child, Campbell said.
While placing a lock or chain on a door may be all it takes for some children, others may need a multi-point protection plan, Campbell said.
“Maybe it’s an alarm system that will trigger when a child leaves. Maybe it’s locking their bedroom door,” she suggested.
Police still don’t know how the two children this week were able to escape their homes.
They said the girl who was found Thursday was checked out by paramedics and then reunited with her mother a short time later.
The boy who turned up on the West Side on Monday was turned over to Child Protective Services when officers were unable to locate his family. However, he eventually was returned to his parents, they said.
Neither child suffered any injuries.
Police said they are still investigating to determine if any adults should face charges.