Local News

Teach Your Kids to Be Safe, Not Scared

Posted July 17, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— They've gotten a lot of leads, but Cary Police are still searching for a man they say is preying on children. On Tuesday, a man driving a white van sexually assaulted two children in two separate Cary neighborhoods. What happened in Cary should serve as a reminder of just how important it is to talk to your kids about dangerous people.

But that's not always easy. So how do you warn your children without frightening them? One psychologist says kids take their cues from us. If we're afraid, they're going to be afraid. But educating your kids about danger doesn't have to be frightening for you or for them.

A child's world is supposed to be fun, carefree and magical. But when adults prey on children, their world becomes dangerous, frightening and sad.

Being aware of such dangers and talking about it doesn't have to be a terrifying experience for kids. You can talk to your children about molesters without frightening them. Clinical Psychologist Don Azevedo suggests you first get accurate information. Rehearse your talk with a friend or family member. And talk to your child when both of you are calm.

"If you present it in a frightening way, they'll be frightened," Azevedo explains. "If you present it as 'if you learn these things, you'll be safe and you'll be OK,' they'll take it that way."

In the case of the children assaulted Tuesday, Cary Police Lt. Steve Lee says the kids knew what to do and did the right thing. They ran away and sought help immediately. They didn't keep it to themselves, they told someone.

There are several places where you can get specific information about what to tell your kids. Police agencies, schools and non-profit groups often have programs to help educate children.