Local News

The Sooner Kids Learn to Be Safe, the Better

Posted August 9, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Friday's arrest of a suspected child molester has calmed the fears of many 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," says parent 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 the dangers associated with them.

It's not something that parents like to dwell on, but Officer Dave Wulff of the Cary Police Department says whether you like to think about it or not, 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 mask on. 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 her children what to do if a stranger approaches them.

"I think the more you drill it into them, the more likely they might they might 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 they repeat them back to you, but what happens in real life? That's Dale Thompson's question.

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

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

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

  • The best thing a parent can do to keep their kids safe is to warn them early.
  • Tell them they should never talk to any stranger who approaches them or 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 see anyone suspicious hanging around their neighborhood.