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Letters: Know where your kids are at

A recent experience influenced me to write this to the newspaper. I am 24 years old, and I own a home with my husband. A week or so ago, a few girls came over into my yard and asked to pet and play with my dog, Joesey. I figured it was fine, since I'd seen them in the neighborhood before, riding bike. I just assumed their parents knew where they were. I gave the girls dog treats to give to Joesey, and introduced myself.

After a few minutes, I was walking onto my deck to leave the girls to the rest of their evening, when one of them piped up "can we come in and see your house?" I gently told them no, but no more than a week later, they came back and asked the same question. I was extremely taken aback by this.

I grew up in a home where my military-now police officer dad and my attentive mom drilled into my four siblings and my head that we were to avoiding talking to strangers. We were forbidden to go anywhere with anyone our parents didn't know about, or put ourselves in any dangerous situations. I could never imagine asking a complete stranger, male or female, if I could enter their home without my parents.

I remember one time my dad tested us to make sure his teachings had been effective. He had a military buddy come to our elementary school and try to get us to go with him in his truck. The man told us that our parents were unable to pick us up that day, so our dad had asked him to bring us home. We had a secret password in this type of situation that would have been given to the man, so we'd know our parents wanted us to leave with him. Needless to say, we refused to go in the truck; Dad popped out from the back of a school bus and told us we passed his test.

Now I'm not saying frighten your children or instill fear in them, but please, talk to them about not entering stranger's homes or vehicles, no matter what the situation may be. Make them aware of their surroundings and watch out for each other. Know where they are going, who they are going with, and any little detail that you feel may be important.

Even though they may feel like you're a nuisance, they will appreciate it one day. Even in our small communities, abductions and harm to children can occur. We like to believe that our neighbors are good people, but I think anyone who watches the news or reads the paper knows that is not always the case. Educate yourself and your children, and be proactive about the safety of your family.

-- Alissa Hoban, Ogema