MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Parents in the Whitehaven community of Memphis, Tennessee, are on edge after a mother told police her 11-year-old daughter had been raped on her way to school Monday morning.
"We never had issues like that over here. Never ever. Not issues about rape. This is like a family community over here," said parent Thepeleton Richmond.
The child was walking to Geeter Middle School around 7 a.m. from her home, and was only about a mile away from the school when a man in a blue SUV pulled up.
"He snatched her, put her in the truck, raped her, and then dropped her off over here," the victim's mother said.
The girl was left in a ditch near Delta and Mason Roads. She was battered and bruised, her mother said, but is expected to be OK.
Hours later, police were still in the area searching for the suspect.
"He's our top priority. I mean, anytime you have anything like that happening with juveniles, kids on the way to school ... kids are our prized possession," said Lt. Col. Gregory Sanders with the Memphis Police Department.
Police encouraged parents to make sure their children have a buddy to walk to school with. They said it's harder for someone to deal with a group than with a single kid.