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The Sooner Kids Learn to Be Safe, the Better

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Playtime at a park could also be a perfect time for a stranger to take advantage of a small child
RALEIGH — Friday's arrest of a suspected child molester has calmed the fears ofmany parents for now. But unfortunately the danger is always out there.The question is, does your child know how to stay safe?

"As a parent, it's very difficult to know where to draw the line," saysparent Nancy Baker. "You don't want them to be frightened to go outside,on the other hand, you want them to be aware of the dangers."

It's a tough call for parents. Teaching children about strangers and thedangers associated with them.

It's not something that parents like to dwell on, but Officer Dave Wulffof the Cary Police Department says whether you like to think about it ornot, you have to.

"Be frank with your children and talk to them about who a stranger is,"Wulff advises. "A stranger isn't a bad man hiding in a bush with a maskon. A stranger is just someone you don't know."

Wulff says it's good idea to talk to your children at an early age.That's what Nancy Baker's done. She uses role playing to teach herchildren what to do if a stranger approaches them.

"I think the more you drill it into them, the more likely they might theymight make the right response when they're presented with that reality,"says Baker.

You tell your kids these things and they seem to understand and theyrepeat them back to you, but what happens in real life? That's DaleThompson's question.

Thompson's 9-year-old son, Andy, says you should be afraid of the meankind of strangers, but not the friendly ones.

But who's friendly and who's not? It's a distinction Thompson hopes hischildren can make when the time comes.

"It's a balancing act," says Thompson. "You probably err on the side ofcaution, but you try not to."

  • The best thing a parent can do to keep their kids safe is to warn themearly.
  • Tell them they should never talk to any stranger who approaches themor ask for their help no matter how nice they may seem.
  • They should never play outside without supervision.
  • Parents need to remind their children to tell someone if they seeanyone suspicious hanging around their neighborhood.
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