KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Parents are on alert after an attempted kidnapping this week at a private school in West Knoxville.
It happened Monday afternoon on the campus of Christian Academy of Knoxville.
Police say a middle school student waiting to be picked up after football practice was approached by a man in a pickup truck who told him that his Dad sent him to pick him up.
The young boy's reaction may have saved his life.
"There he was in an environment where there were other adults around and other children and it can happen anywhere," said CAK parent Gretchen Franke.
Some parents were shocked that a would-be kidnapper approached a middle school student in broad daylight.
School officials say the boy stayed calm and asked the stranger for a code word.
"In this case the kid happened to look up, notice he was there. What's the code word? The gentleman had no clue and you know, it saved the kid's life probably," said Officer Lori Banks.
Police say having a code word is important, but it shouldn't stop there. Let kids know that a bad person may try to gain their trust.
"They're trying to convince them, you know, Mom said to pick you up. She's going to be late. We're going to go to Toys 'R' Us. We're going to go out to eat. We may even go to see a movie," Officer Banks said.
But strangers aren't the only ones who kidnap children so police say you should tell your kids who will pick them up each day.
If someone else shows up, "You don't go. Flat out," Officer Banks said. "If I didn't tell you to get in the car with them today, you don't go. I told you today it's going to be grandma."
Gretchen Franke says she'll start using a code word. "My children are a little bit older, and I guess I'm naive about situations like that. I feel like they are a little protected here, and I know they're not. No place is safe anymore, but what a great idea."
The CAK student describes the man who approached him as appearing to be in his 40s. He drove a white Ford pickup truck.
If you have any information, call police at 865-215-7212.