This article is written from a U.S. perspective with regards to matters of law. I welcome other perspectives in the comments.
Did you see Making a Murderer, about a man who's been convicted AGAIN of a crime he possibly did not commit? We don't have to go into my opinions of Steven Avery's guilt or innocence — I just want to talk about what seems to me to be a classic case of extorting a false confession out of his 16-year-old nephew, Brendan Dassey, and my fear that my children could one day be accused, arrested, tried, and convicted simply because I haven't told them this important piece of advice:
Brendon is a minor when this murder investigation goes down. He is repeatedly interviewed without a parent present. He has a low I.Q. In short, he is vulnerable, and the cops take advantage of this.
Despite no physical evidence whatsoever, and no prior run-ins with the law by Brendan, they decide he's guilty and then systematically, over many excruciating hours, manipulate and lie to Brendan to coerce him into saying what they want. I don't really want to "prove" here that I'm right — this is just my opinion, after having seen comparable interrogation footage of other false confessions of similarly vulnerable people. You can watch the footage yourself and form your own opinion.
Whether this particular confession was false, my point is just this: People DO give false confessions, and innocent people DO go to prison, and I definitely don't want that to happen to my kids!
But how do you balance the messages you want to give young kids about law enforcement with the warnings you want to instill in older children? How do I tell my four-year-old, "Police officers are our friends! They help us!" — and then turn around and tell my eight-year-old, "If the police want to talk to you, you say NOTHING but 'I want to talk with my parents'"?