Safety concerns prompt changes at Boys and Girls Club - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Safety concerns prompt changes at Boys and Girls Club

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Sandrine Kouadio and Fartun Dayo Sandrine Kouadio and Fartun Dayo

The Boys and Girls Club in Burlington says dangerous criminals have their eyes on its members and now the club is taking a new step to help kids avoid potential problems.

For Sandrine Kouadio and Fartun Dayo, the Burlington Boys & Girls Club is a safe place for them to hang out after school.

But the 14-year-olds say it's getting to and from the club that's not safe. Kouadio has a 30-minute walk home.

"I was so scared I didn't know what to do because there was no one nearby at the time," she said.

Both have had people follow them home or to the club at night and during the day.

"There was this guy following me and I started walking fast and I got so scared and kept following me whenever I turned around he was right there," said Kouadio.

Fartun Dayo said, "I was walking by Riverside and this guy was sitting down. Then, when I walked past, he got up, looked around to see if anyone was around. And I looked back and he was there walking behind me. I kept on walking faster and I kept hearing footsteps."

Jack Stackhouse is the teen director at the Boys & Girls Club. He says there have been a number of complaints from female members, so the club took action and started driving kids home this fall.

Depending on the number of kids who need rides, staffers now use a club van or their personal cars to get members home.

"We've had a lot more reports from members saying they've been approached by gangs or people about drugs," said Stackhouse.

Burlington Police say there is an increasing drug problem throughout the state and they suggest no one-- including adults-- walks alone.

Lt. Matt Sullivan said, "If you're walking alone you're more vulnerable. If there is someone looking to target an individual they're much more likely to target an individual than someone in a group."

For Kouadio and Dayo, it's rides home or the buddy system-- no more walking alone.

"I'm not as scared as more because i know there's someone to drive me," says Kouadio.

Around 15 kids currently take advantage of the rides home and the club expects that number to increase throughout the school year.

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