Universal Press Syndicate, February 28 1998

Dear Abby--It's wrong to condition kids to be fearful of authority figures

Dear Abby: As a young parent, I was appalled to hear other parents threaten to call the police and have their children taken to jail when they misbehaved.

I am now in my 80s and I'm horrified to see that the same threat is still being used. I raised five children and taught them that the police were their friends.

It paid off when my 4-year-old son, Larry, disappeared while we were shopping. As I frantically searched for him, I spotted him perched on an officer's shoulder. After having Larry identify me, the policeman laughed and told me that Larry had approached him for help. When he asked my son if he was lost, Larry answered: "No, I'm not lost. I'm here. My momma is lost. Will you find her for me?"

That was only one time out of many that the police have befriended us. I wish you would print something to the effect that law enforcement officers are there to help.

Also, I do not believe in corporal punishment. I have always felt that children are usually punished when parents are angry, not when the children are naughty. As my mother always said, "What you are too stupid to teach them, you cannot knock into them." So I have never had to resort to corporal punishment.

I love your column and your sensible answers. - Freda L. Davis, Hawaii

Dear Freda: Thank you. I agree. It makes no sense to make a child fearful of the very person he or she may need in an emergency. Children who are treated with respect will grow up to respect others. Hitting teaches only that might makes right.

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