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‘The Talk’: How do you teach your kids to interact with police?

April 9, 2012 | 10:31 am

Police talk
Talk back LAIn the wake of the shooting of Trayvon Martin by a Florida neighborhood watch commander and the Pasadena police shooting of an unarmed college student, many black parents are revisiting "The Talk."

Times reporters Christopher Goffard and Richard Winton spent some time in Pasadena in the days after 19-year-old Kendrec McDade was shot by two officers – and spoke with parents about the conversations they have with their children.

"'The Talk' is because they have to know what to do and not do," said Jim Collins, a longtime Pasadena resident said of his conversation with his son. "Certain things are a reality for him – he needed to understand that early on."

Here's what Goffard and Winton wrote about "The Talk":

Parents say some version of the conversation, ubiquitous in African American life, is necessary regardless of how high they climb on the socioeconomic ladder. It is about learning to say "Yes, sir" and "No, sir" when a policeman pulls you over, no matter how unjustified the stop seems. It is about keeping your hands on the steering wheel and giving officers no cause for panic. It is about swallowing your anger and pride and coming home alive.

One commenter on the story said, "This is a good talk to have with any kid, really."

Another wrote: "Act like a thug, dress like a thug? Be regarded as a thug, get treated like a thug. Black parents (and White and Hispanic,too) If you grieve over the loss of your children, start doing your jobs and take responsibility for the actions of your children. If you do not, then this will never end."

What do you think? Is "The Talk" necessary? Does it cross racial lines? Share the conversations you've had with your children and any other thoughts.


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Photo: A protester with an anti-police sign approaches a Los Angeles Police Department patrol car after a community meeting on Sept. 8, 2010. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times