How do I protect my kids? They want urgently to know how to keep their children safe. Our challenge as parents is to protect and empower our children without terrifying them. But how to do that? Kids need these skills whether there is a registered sex offender in their neighborhood or not. Stay Calm and Use Your Awareness The knowledge that someone living close to you has abused children is of course deeply distressing. Unfortunately most child molesters have not yet been caught and are not registered on lists.
The bad news is that sexual predators live in most communities without our knowledge. The good news is that you and your children have the power to learn skills that can keep your family safe most of the time. While feeling upset that someone has harmed kids is normal, demonizing this individual will serve no purpose and will not help your children be safer.
Instead of panicking, use your increased awareness to overcome The Illusion of Safety click to read this free article. Your greater knowledge can prepare you to protect your family from many hidden dangers in addition to this one. Try to have concerned conversations with neighbors, including on the phone, where your children cannot overhear you. Often worried parents react in ways that help them feel safer as adults, but can cause their kids to become anxious and confused.
Green has been unsafe with kids so I want you to stay away from him. If he tries to talk to you or come close to you, move away and come tell me.
Put safety ahead of relationships Situations get complicated if the sex offender is in a family or household where your kids spend time or have friends. Even if they have been in jail and are under treatment, child molesters sometimes repeat their behavior. Although most sex offenders are men, it is important to stay aware that a few women are also sexual predators who act abusively and even very violently towards children, so these safety rules are for everyone. Make sure that your children are never alone with someone who has been known to abuse kids.
If this person shows up at a neighborhood event, stay with your kids and keep them away from him or her at all times. Suppose your children are friends with kids in a family living nearby, and you discover that an uncle who was convicted of sexual abuse is now living there. Since these children are friends with your kids, you might want to have them come to your house to visit. Whatever their uncle did is not their fault. At the same time, stay aware of the possibility that they might have been abused.
Children who have been abused who have not had help are most likely to harm themselves, but they might play in a way that is unsafe or inappropriate, so you will need to supervise carefully.
Advocating with family members for your kids for stories and strategies that you can use with family, friends, teachers, coaches and others who may cross boundaries with your kids. Know what your kids are doing Check first before you go, even with people you know!
Make sure you really know anyone that you entrust with the care of your kids even for a few minutes. Children who are not yet prepared to go out on their own are safer if they have adult protection all the time. Ask questions and make very specific agreements about your expectations.
Stop by unexpectedly to check in. Pay attention to your intuition. Speak up about concerns. Change plans unless you are sure your kids will be safe. Keeping Playdates Fun and Safe. I also want you to check with me first about when it is okay to open our door to anyone unless you were expecting this person.
Prepare your kids before you let them go on their own Whether kids are going across the street to play with a friend, get something from the neighborhood store, visiting the corner park, or walking to school, they need to be prepared before they go anywhere without adult protection. Make sure your children understand what you want them to do with each person and place in your neighborhood — and give them the chance to practice.
Kidpower recommends this five-step process to prepare children for more independence: Make realistic assessments about your child in each situation. Practice these skills together. Co-pilot with your child to field-test the use of these skills in the real world. Conduct trial runs to rehearse independence in controlled doses with adult backup. Keep communication open with listening, ongoing checking in, and review.
Teach your children about healthy boundaries Coach children to set healthy boundaries — so they know what to say and what to do if they need to stop or leave an unsafe situation. The reality is that anyone might touch or play with your child in an unsafe way, including other children who are curious or have poor boundaries themselves. To keep your children safe from abuse, be sure they understand their safety rules and know how to: Not sure how to practice?
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You are welcome to download this Featured Article for personal use, and print one 1 copy for free — as long as you keep the PDF "as is" and do not post or share electronically, per our Permission to Use Requirements. You will receive an email with a secure, encrypted link to download the PDF. Are you a member? October 11, Irene van der Zande, Kidpower Founder and Executive Director Kidpower Founder and Executive Irene van der Zande is a master at teaching safety through stories and practices and at inspiring others to do the same.