Keeping Your Children Safe
Suggestions to help families in today’s fast-paced society:
- Know where each of your children is at all times. Communicate with your children by advising them of your schedule and changes to it. In turn, impress upon them the need for them to communicate with you their plans and changes to such.
- Never leave young children unattended in a vehicle.
- Be involved in your children’s activities. Children, even teenagers, enjoy parental engagement. It makes them feel wanted and it gives you opportunity to observe how the adults in charge interact with your children.
- LISTEN to your children. Pay attention if they tell you they don’t want to be with someone or go somewhere. This may be an indication of more than a personality conflict or lack of interest in the activity or event. Notice when anyone shows your child a great deal of attention or begins giving them gifts. Take the time to talk to your child and find out why that person is acting in this way.
- Teach your children that they have the right to say NO to any uncomfortable or confusing touch or actions by others. Teach children to loudly yell, kick or scream to get out of an unwanted situation. Reassure them you’re there to help and it is okay to tell you anything.
- Set and respect family boundaries. All members of the family have rights to privacy in dressing, bathing, sleeping, and other personal activities. If anyone does not respect these rights, an adult should clearly tell them the family rules.
- Use the proper names of body parts. This knowledge gives children correct language for understanding their bodies, for asking questions that need to be asked, and for telling about any behavior that could lead to sexual abuse.
- Be sensitive to any changes in your children’s behavior or attitude. If your children confide problems to you, strive to remain calm, reassuring, and nonjudgmental. Listen compassionately to their concern, and work with them to get the help they need to resolve the problem.
- Stay attuned to your children’s use of technology. Model safe choices and behavior. The illusion of anonymity on these electronic mediums often leads to a breakdown of social rules and expectations that would be assumed if the interactions were face-to-face. Establish clear, firm guidelines and stick to them.
- Create a family safety plan that is clear to everyone and easy to follow. List who to talk with when you see something you are unsure about and who to call if you believe there is a need to report sexual abuse. Report anything you know or suspect might be sexual abuse. If nobody speaks up, the abuse will not stop.
- Screen babysitters and caregivers. Ask your children how the experience with the caregiver was, and arefully listen to the responses.
- Practice basic safety skills with your children. Practice pay phones, going to restrooms and locating adults who may be able to help if they need assistance.