An 11-year-old girl managed to escape after a man tried to drag her into his car in Southampton, police said.
The girl was walking home from school near Debenhams in the city centre when a man got out of a red car and grabbed her by the wrists.
Police said he tried to abduct her but she managed to run off. They described him as Asian and aged about 35 to 40.
Officers appealed for anyone with information about the attack on Tuesday afternoon to contact them.
Det Insp Becky Riggs said: "These type of incidents are, luckily, rare in our city however we need to find the person responsible as quickly as possible.
"This is a busy area and there would have been lots of people around where this happened at that time of day, both on foot and driving, and they are likely to have seen what happened."