Toronto police are seeking a suspect after a report of an attempted child abduction outside a school in the Beaches.

Const. Tony Vella told that the incident occurred Tuesday at Balmy Beach Community School, which is located at 14 Pine Ave.

A suspect wearing a black ski mask and driving an older-style, dented mini-van pulled up to an 11-year-old girl returning to school, "grabbed her and attempted to pull her into the vehicle," he said.

The child escaped, went to school and told officials there, who then contacted police.

Vella said they don't yet know the man's skin colour or have an age estimate.

The girl and her mother are at 55 Division giving a statement to police.

Const. Wendy Drummond, another police spokesperson, told that as of about 5 p.m., investigators were still interviewing the girl.

Decisions on whether or not to issue an alert won't be made until that interview has been completed, she said.

Vella said parents should make sure their children understand the importance of not talking to strangers.

Parents in the area interviewed by CTV Toronto called the incident a wake-up call, with one saying it was very scary that someone has been in their neighbourhood trying to snatch a child.

CTV's Brad Giffen said the latest news is that the suspect's van may have been seen in the area a few times in the last several days.

Brampton arrest

In a separate case, Peel Regional Police investigators have arrested a man in connection with the alleged kidnapping and sexual assault of a nine-year-old Brampton boy.

The boy was walking to school Monday when he was allegedly abducted by the suspect, forced into a nearby home and held for six hours.

Police allege the boy was repeatedly sexually assaulted over that period.

"The victim was released in the same area where he was abducted. The victim reported the assault to his parents at which time police were called," police said in a news release issued Tuesday.

Lucas Petrini, 18, of Everett -- a tiny community northwest of Alliston, and about 50 kilometres from Brampton -- faces the following charges:

  • Kidnapping
  • Uttering a death threat
  • Assault
  • Sexual assault
  • Exposure to a person under 16
  • Sexual interference
  • Invitation to sexual touching
  • Possession of a weapon

Petrini was to appear before the Ontario Court of Justice in Brampton on Tuesday.

With a report from CTV Toronto's Brad Giffen

Child Find Canada's 30 Ways To Help Prevent Child Abduction

Young children should be taught to:

  • never say they are alone if they answer the phone: they can offer to take a message or say their parents will phone back.
  • never answer the door if they are alone.
  • never invite anyone into the house without the permission of a parent or babysitter.
  • never enter people's houses without letting anyone know where they are.
  • never get into anyone's car without permission.
  • never take gifts from strangers or anyone else without asking a parent first.
  • never play in deserted buildings or isolated areas.
  • move away from a car that pulls up beside them if they do not know the driver.
  • say 'no' to an adult if the person wants them to do something you've taught them is wrong.
  • know that no one has the right to touch any part of their bodies that a bathing suit would cover.
  • tell you, school authorities or a police officer about anyone who exposes private parts.
  • tell you if someone has asked them to keep a secret from you.
  • go to the nearest cashier if lost or separated from you in a store or mall.

Teens should:

  • tell you where they are at all times or leave a written or recorded message at home.
  • never hitchhike.
  • avoid shortcuts through empty parks, fields, laneways or alleys.
  • run home or go to the nearest public place and yell for help if they are being followed.
  • learn to recognize suspicious behavior and remember a description of the person or vehicle to give the police. Write the plate number in the dirt or snow if nothing else is available.
  • if attacked for money, jewelry or clothing give it up rather than risk injury.
  • feel that they can talk to you and call you to pick them up any time, any place.

Parents should:

  • avoid clothing and toys with your child's name on it. A child is less likely to fear someone who knows his/her name.
  • check all potential babysitters and older friends of your child. Never leave a child alone in a public place, stroller or car, not even for a minute.
  • always accompany young children to the bathroom in a public place and advise them never to play in or around the area.
  • always accompany your child on door-to-door activities, i.e. Halloween, school fundraising campaigns, etc.
  • point out safe houses or homes with a Block Parent sign where children can go if they are in trouble.
  • keep an up-to-date colour photograph of your child, a medical and dental history, and have your child fingerprinted.

What to do if your child goes missing

  • Stay calm. Contact neighbours, friends, spouse, siblings and anyone who may know where your child may be.
  • If your child is missing from home, search the house. Check closets, piles of laundry, in and under beds, inside old refrigerators--wherever a child may crawl or hide.
  • If you still cannot find your child, immediately call your local law enforcement agency.
  • If your child disappears in a store, notify the store manager or security office. Then immediately call your local law enforcement agency.
  • Assemble all the documents you'll need to show to police: an updated photo, birth certificate, and health information.
  • Ask that the media be contacted so that the photograph of your child can be distributed as widely as possible.