DEAR ABBY: I am a police officer who spends many hours in local school programs trying to get children to trust police officers. It breaks my heart and angers me to hear an adult tell a child, "See that officer? If you don't behave, he's going to put you in jail."
The last time I heard a mother say this, she was talking to her 3-year-old son! This child then walked up to me almost in tears and asked, "Are you really going to put me to jail?"
That form of "discipline" is not fair to us or to the child. First of all, it's lying to the child. And someday if the child should get lost he will think, "I can't ask a police officer for help because he will put me in jail -- Mommy and Daddy said he would."
Law enforcement officers are there to help parents and children, but parents using us as threats thwart our efforts to protect these little ones. Please, parents, do not alienate your children from us. -- RICHARD K. TEAR, BALCH SPRINGS, TEXAS
DEAR OFFICER TEAR: I have published a number of such letters in the past, but this important message cannot be repeated too often.
Parents, it is essential that children be taught to respect the law and trust its officers, because not only do they fight crime, they also offer aid in times of crisis.