20 Simple Things you Can Do To Keep Your Children Safe From Sexual Predators
- Tell your children that no adult should touch them in a way that makes them uncomfortable and it is wrong for adults to touch their private parts.
- Make your child feel safe and comfortable telling you anything, especially if it involves another adult. If your child does not feel comfortable being completely honest with you, then together you should find another trusted adult your child can talk to in confidence.
- Teach your children about their bodies, give them the correct language to use when describing their private parts. Emphasize that those parts are private.
- Encourage your children to say NO to any unwelcome, uncomfortable, or confusing touch or actions by others. Teach them to tell you immediately if this happens. Reassure them that you are there to help and it is okay to tell you anything.
- Get to know the people with whom your child is spending time.
- Know where your children are at all times. Know your children's friends and be clear with your children about the places and homes they may visit. Make it a rule that your children check in with you when they arrive at or depart from a particular location and when there is a change in plans. And be consistent, you should let them know when YOU are running late or if your plans change. This will help them see that the rule is for safety purposes and not being used to "check up" on them.
- Be involved in your children's activities because you will have a better opportunity to watch the adults in charge interact with your children. If you have concerns don't hesitate to address them with the activity's organization.
- Do background checks on caregivers and screen babysitters. There are many Internet resources that allow parents to screen individuals for prior criminal records and sex offenses. Check with other families who have used the caregiver or babysitter. When using a new sitter or caregiver make the effort to drop in unexpectedly to see how your children are doing. Ask your children about the caregiver and listen carefully.
- Never leave your children alone in an automobile. Ever. Don't leave your child in an automobile with other people that you do not explicitly trust, as the potential dangers to their safety outweigh the convenience.
- Remind children to not approach a car or talk with anyone in a car who they do not know or trust. Tell your children that adults should not ask children for directions or for help. If this happens, tell your children to calmly look for the nearest group of people and walk toward them until the car leaves the area.
- Listen to your children and pay attention if they tell you that they do not want to be with someone or go somewhere. This may be an indication of more than just a personality conflict or lack of interest in the activity or event.
- Notice when someone shows your children a great deal of attention or begins giving them gifts. Take the time to talk to your children about this person.
- Be sensitive to any changes in your children's behavior or attitude. Look and listen to small cues and clues that something may be troubling your children, because they are typically uncomfortable disclosing disturbing events or feelings.
- If your children do confide problems to you, strive to be nonjudgmental and calm. Be compassionate, listen to their concern and work with them to get any help they may need.
- Practice safety skills with your children. Go to mall or a park and create a "teachable" experience in which your children can practice checking with you, going to the restroom with a friend, and locating an adult who can help if they need assistance.
- Allowing your children to wear clothing or carry items in public on which their name is displayed can bring about unwelcome attention from inappropriate people who may be looking for a way to start a conversation with your children.
- If you must leave your children alone in your home for any period, instruct them to not answer the door or speak with the person through the door. Tell them to ignore a knock on the door or the doorbell ringing. Whoever is stopping by will leave a note or return if it is truly imporant.
- Teach your children to not give out their name to strangers on the phone. If they are alone and they have your permission to answer the phone, have your children tell unknown callers that their parents can't come to the phone right now and that the caller can call later. Practice this script:
Your child: Hello.
Caller: Hi, who am I speaking with?
Your child: How may I help you?
Caller: I'd like to know your name.
Your child: My mom and dad can't come to the phone right now, but you can call back.
Caller: How soon can I call back? And you still haven't told me your name.
Your child: Thanks for calling. Good bye (and instruct your child to hang up).
- Remember that there is no substitute for your attention and supervision. Being available and taking time to really know and listen to your children helps build feelings of safety and security.
- Practice and review the previous 19 tips to keep your children safe from sexual predators.