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Golden Arches sign of safe haven for kids
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Stella Brockman student Joshua Puetz, 10, poses on a police motorcycle while his grandfather, William Puetz, takes a quick picture on his cell phone. - photo by GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

The San Joaquin County District Attorney and McDonald’s restaurants have set up a partnership to keep kids safe as they are returning home from school – declaring the fast food sites as safe houses for anxious and frightened children.
In Manteca it’s the McDonald’s at Yosemite Avenue and Union Road that stands ready to help at a moment’s notice for any child in fear even in a case where a stranger is following them. 
Craig Schrader and his family are franchise owners of 32 McDonald’s restaurants in San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Amador and Sacramento counties where their staffs have been trained in responding to any youngster – elementary school through high school – coming through their doors looking for help.  They are ready to call any agency that they deem appropriate from the police department to their parents or other family members. 
Wednesday afternoon saw a stream of high school and elementary school students coming through their front doors meeting with a team of McDonald’s workers and Manteca police officers .
In preparation for the launching of the safety program, the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s office had contacted the resource Police Officer at each of Manteca Unified School District’s high schools in an effort to encourage the attendance of students.
Motorcycle officer John Machado offered the students the opportunity to sit on his motorcycle and turn on the lights, following that up with a parking lot riding demonstration for the younger kids when the event concluded.  Canine Officer Dale Goforth was there, too, bringing his canine for the kids to get to know.  The dog just rolled over on his back asking for belly rubs and he got some takers.
Suzanne Schultz, District Attorney Family Justice Center Project Director, handed out pamphlets designed more for the teenage girls programmed to keep them safe from aggressive boy friends who might turn on them.  “What’s Your Relationship Like?  — The Choice is Yours!” the pamphlet states.
There are dangers in teen dating and every day violence, she added.
uHitting, grabbing, pushing or shoving.
uPulling hair, slapping, punching or strangling.
uIntimidation, blocking doors, hitting things or throwing objects at or near a partner.
uAny offensive touching.
uUsing or threatening to use weapons.
Abuse does not have to leave a mark to be abuse, she noted, it can be totally psychological in nature.
Students, especially those in high school, have to have a safety plan:
uWhich people at school can you tell in order to be safe – teachers, a principal, counselors, security?
uKeep money or a credit card hidden for your use only.
uKeep a daily journal describing daily abuse in school and on the way home.
uCreate a “signal phrase” to alert family and friends over the phone to call 911 when they hear those special pre-arraigned trouble words. 
uIf you are stranded, who could you call to get a ride home?
And, where could you go quickly to get away from an abusive person?  McDonald’s made the case this week saying that their restaurants are now safe havens for students and they will immediately offer the best solutions possible and make phone calls to authorities or to family members.

To contact Glenn Kahl, email