Parents never want to have to think about the fact that there are sick people in the world that want to do perverted things to young children. They think that if they keep their child with them at all times then nothing will happen. But what happens when they go to school, play sports or go to the babysitter’s house. Someone can take advantage of the child in these supposedly “safe” zones. The statistics show an increasing problem – 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 7 boys will be molested by their 18th birthday and approximately 85% of the children will know their attacker.
1. First, teach your children it is never okay to keep secrets from you! Don’t even encourage secrets within your family unit and let them know they can tell you anything.
2. Talk to your child EVERYDAY! Too many parents get wrapped up in their daily work drama and other distractions to fully focus on their child. Put down the cell phone; turn off the television and gaming devices. Give that child your full attention and encourage them to talk about whatever they want.
3. Teach your children that they are not to blindly obey everything an adult tells them to do if it feels wrong. Let them know that the majority of adults are decent respectable people, but there are a few that do not have their best interest in mind. Tell them if an adult makes them uncomfortable or asks them to do something unusual, they should let you know immediately!
4. Please teach your child the correct names for their body parts even if you use nicknames within the family. And teach them the difference between good and bad touching. Explain that a doctor or nurse may have to examine their bodies to see what’s wrong if they’re sick, but it’s not alright for another adult to touch their private parts or other parts of their body. Private parts should be defined as all areas a bathing suit would cover. And if an adult tries to touch them in a bad way to say “NO!” and tell their parents or a trusted adult as soon as possible.
5. Please do not rely on telling your child, “Don’t talk to strangers” to keep them safe. Studies have proven that children do not always understand exactly who is considered a stranger.
6. Finally, schedule “what if” game time with your children. Describe a potentially unsafe, uncomfortable or confusing situation and ask your child how they would handle the situation. Make sure you balance the scenarios between good and bad situations. By practicing these scenarios, children will have a reference of what they should do if one of these situations arises in the future.
The most important thing a parent must do is stay vigilant and keep the lines of communication open! If a child feels comfortable telling you the little things when they are small, then they will feel comfortable telling you the big things when they get older.