Let’s Get Serious: Protecting Your Children From Predators
I would like to get serious for a moment and address a topic that often goes under the radar or is ignored completely, protecting our children from predators. It seems the news is reeling with incidents of abduction, molestation, and most recently a “celebrity” who paid for sexual encounters with young girls. By young, I mean under the age of 18. Why does this keep happening? How do we protect our children from predators?
The answer is communication. We can protect our children without sheltering them from the outside world through open and clear communication. They must understand what dangers face them, but we must do this in a way that doesn’t use fear. You can begin by setting safety rules such as:
- Never let someone swear you to secrecy
- Never get into vehicles with strangers
- Never go anywhere with someone you don’t know
- Let your parents know where you are at all times
- Stay with your friends
Teach your children how to recognize dangers with who, what, and where. "Who" dangers will be anyone you don’t know or trust asking you to do things you don’t want to do. Children must know that strangers are not the only dangers out there, as abductions and abuse can occur by family members or friends of the family as well. What dangers could be as simple as any adult who is asking children for help doing something, or asking a child to go somewhere with them.
The "what" part also covers anyone who is crossing boundaries by touching inappropriately or invading personal space. Teach your children not to give the benefit of the doubt but rather to trust their instincts and gut feelings about a situation or person.
The "where" part of teaching dangers would be anyone asking your child to go somewhere other than where they are, a second location. This should set off alarms for your child. They should also be on alert anytime an adult approaches them while they are alone. Teach your children it is okay to say no. When they feel they are in danger, they should yell, scream, run in the opposite direction and ask for help.
Make sure your children understand that a violation of their body or personal space is wrong, and they don’t need to be polite about it. Keep the lines of communication open between you and your children. Go over various scenarios to be sure your child will know what to do in case they are ever faced with those scenarios. We want to keep our kids innocent to the Jared Fogles of the world as much as possible, but they also must be aware of the dangers out there in order to protect themselves.