For decades adults have warned children not to talk to strangers because we fear kidnappers.

Today’s warning are much more complicated because sexual attacks are part of the conversation.

In Wilton, educating children about “good strangers” and “bad strangers” has been a longtime project of the police department. For nearly a decade, long before the department instituted its DARE program, Police Chief Ed Leahy has visited kindergartners and first-graders at the Cushing School to talk about stranger danger and how to fend off a sexual attack.

On Monday, the chief, who uses humor to talk about a topic void of amusement, was at the school again, teaching first-graders how to avoid being tricked by a stranger.

We can all agree it’s sad that we have to talk to children about the danger of sexual molestation, but heavy hearts alone will not protect children. Leahy recognized that and, years before others saw the importance of straight talk about childhood sexual abuse, developed a school-based program to teach students to recognize methods molestors may use to harm them. And why not?

We teach children to avoid fire, how to safely cross streets and to chew slowly to avoid choking. As distasteful as it is, learning how to protect themselves from sexual attack must be part of youngsters’ life lessons.

If police departments don’t already have some kind of public safety awareness program to teach children to be wary of strangers, they should follow Leahy’s lead.

“I am supposed to protect and serve the population,” Leahy said. He sees children as a segment of that population and is dedicated to their protection.

Sexual molestation is a real danger. Society, which too long ignored this crime, is now making conscious strides to warn communities about the presence of sexual predators. Too often, though, we are unaware predators exist because they instill fear in children to seal their secrets.

Teaching children to be wary gives them power to protect themselves.

Lost time
Wednesday’s morning commute in Lewiston was cold and wet. But not slippery. It was quite different in Oxford, Waterford, Peru and parts north. Heavy snow coated the streets and made driving hazardous. And, still, people were speeding.

It’s a typical winter tale.

Drivers in too much of a hurry slide into ditches, roll over cars and slam into trees.

The irony is that rushing to save time can result in lost time while waiting for police and a tow truck operator to respond.

The tragedy is that this rush to save time causes accidents that hurt other people.

Is that really worth shaving a couple of minutes off the commute?

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