It is always nice to report a child abduction with a happy ending. It’s so rarely the case. We need to take a minute and appreciate that there was a mother out there, terrified and frantic and watching the world crash down around her, who now gets to tuck her baby into bed and kiss her on the forehead. That mother is Latifah Rashid and her five-year-old daughter is Nailla Robinson.
Yesterday, a woman walked into Nailla’s Philadelphia school, signed an illegible name on the school’s sign-out sheet, and removed the young girl from her classroom. Just like that, Nailla went from beginning her school day to “missing child.”
According to the little girl, she was later blind-folded and walked to a house a couple blocks away. Then, hours later, a teenage girl that she did not know walked her to a playground and left her there. There have been no signs of physical or sexual abuse. A kind citizen found Nailla and called the police, who returned the little girl to her mother.
That’s the story of Nailla’s disappearance. And now that we know the story has a happy ending, it’s time to go back and look at exactly how a woman managed to abduct a young girl from the safety of her school without raising a single eyebrow.
Police have video surveillance of the woman who walked into Nailla’s classroom and her removed her from the school. Unfortunately, the evidence is barely useful, because the woman was wearing a black niqab. Nailla’s mother explains the ruse used by the woman:
“[She] told her teacher that she was me, her mother, and that she was taking her out to breakfast and Nailla was already signed out at the office and she took my child and left.”
Nailla’s class had a substitute teacher that day, so she was not familiar with the classroom parents. And no other school employee questioned the woman. No receptionist checked the name scribbled on the sign-out sheet.
Every parent knows that they leave a list of acceptable people to pick up their children with the school. If my father ever needs to pick up my daughter from school, he should have to walk in to the school secretary’s office and show her a photo ID before collecting my little girl. Obviously that didn’t happen at Nailla’s school.
The school released a statement saying that there were major procedural violations that led to the young girl’s abduction. I hate to say it, but I think that part is obvious.
The idea that such a crime could occur has to shock and anger parents, who believe that when they drop they’re children off to school, they’re leaving them in safe hands. It should raise major concerns with the Philadelphia school district, who obviously need to address serious security issues.
At the same time, this little girl was found safe. She was returned home. And even though there’s plenty of anger and frustration to be had, I’m having a hard time feeling anything but relief that this child made it back home.