THE massive publicity surrounding the April Jones case has concentrated minds in north Antrim and beyond regarding child safety, local MLA Mervyn Storey, the Chair of the Stormont Education Committee told the Times.
The DUP representative was speaking as hundreds of local people took to Facebook to air their views and to voice their sympathy for the plight of the Jones family in Wales following the disappearance of the five-year-old (PICTURED RIGHT) .
Mr Storey, himself a father, said his thoughts are with the Jones’ and the close-knit community in the mid-Wales town where little April went missing last week.
And he accepted the case will have had an impact on the thoughts of both children and those who look after them in local schools.
He said: “Clearly this incident has brought home the issue of child safety and whilst the incident wasn’t directly linked to a school, parents, staff and schools are always mindful of doing all they can to make sure pupils are protected both at school and making the journey to and from school.
“I don’t think we could imagine what the Jones’ family is going through and I don’t think we can be vigilant enough but unfortunately there may be individuals who want to devise evil.
“As a Board of Governors’ member in both a primary and post-primary school I know governors always want to do all they can to protect pupils and the issues surrounding this case are the sort of things teachers would consider in terms of pastoral care.
“Teachers have to make a judgement on giving the right information about what happened in Wales but at the same time not creating a panic. That is the balance you have to get.
“You really can’t begin to image what that family is going through and my thoughts and prayers are with the family. It is a horrendous situation,” said Mr Story.
Meanwhile, the Times understands that several local people have been on Facebook and are supporting a “password” situation regarding their children which encourages youngsters to always ask people that might go along to a school to collect them what their family-specific password is and that way it may stop them going off with a stranger.