The schoolboy was walking in Kenmure Street, Pollokshields, Glasgow at around 3.10pm yesterday when he was approached by a man who pulled him from the street to the back court of nearby flats.
The boy managed to break free and ran back into Kenmure Street and alerted another man, police said.
He was uninjured and went home and told his family who contacted police.
Extra police patrols have been put in the area and officers are trying to find out if the man is known to the boy.
The man is around 5ft 4in and aged between 30 and 35. He was unshaven and wearing dark jogging bottoms, a hooded top and a baseball cap.
Chief Inspector Hazel Knight said: "At the moment we are trying to establish whether the boy involved was known to the man and approached intentionally or if this was a random incident. Specially trained officers are speaking to him and his family to get as much detail as possible, as well as checking local CCTV and carrying out door-to-door inquiries."
Police want to speak to the man that the boy alerted to the incident in Kenmure Street. He was with a young boy on a bike who was wearing a local primary school uniform.
Mr Knight said: "There will be extra officers in the area to provide public reassurance and I would ask that anyone who recognises the description of the man involved or with information they believe may help our inquiry, to speak to them or contact police via the non-emergency number 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 where details can be given in confidence."