Because predators will offend when the circumstances are right, we want to offer parents some tips for protecting children.
Here are some steps you can take to be proactive:
- Ask the administration at your child’s school (or the church you attend, or wherever you might leave your child in the care of others) what policies are in place to protect their students from predators while they are on the property. This will help clarify your expectations, as well as offer an opportunity to participate in security measures.
- Let family and friends hear you talking with your child about their rights.
- Help your child understand their private parts are what they cover up when they go to the beach. No one else needs to see or touch them, or show them theirs, or ask a child to touch theirs. To reinforce these protective measures, respect your child’s privacy as much as possible and practice privacy as a family. It’s hard to maintain protective barriers for our children if we make exceptions.
- Use the anatomically correct names for your son and daughter’s genitalia. Predators often will use other words. This will allow you to notice their change in vocabulary
- Talk with your children about their feelings. “How did that make you feel?” is a great response. Learning young to identify our feelings, and those of others, gives us good tools to navigate socially.
- Recognize that sexual curiosity is normal and healthy. Sexual touch is pleasurable. Helping children understand this in age-appropriate ways will further them along their road to self-discovery and maturity. However, premature erotic behavior is a red flag and its source must be investigated. The child is not the source.
- Make listening a priority. As often as you can, look your child in the eyes when they are talking with you.
- Model honesty.
- Teach your child she or he owns her or his affections. In social settings, if they do not want to sit on someone’s lap or kiss or hug someone as a greeting, that should be respected. A simple “hello” or handshake is acceptable. If this creates an awkward situation for the adults, this is a great time for the parent or guardian to tell those present that we’ve talked about being safe and giving affection and we’re practicing today. If everyone chuckles, great! If someone is offended, beware.
- If your child tells you someone did or said something to them which made them feel uncomfortable, believe them.