Protecting Your Kids From Sexual Predators

Protecting Your Kids From Predators

The “Me too” movement has given voice to many women/men/children who have been the victim of sexual abuse for many years. They have been victimized by trusted teachers, religious leaders, coaches, neighbor, babysitters and neighbours.  These and many other stories are classic examples of how individuals have misused their position of trust and authority to abuse kids. Unfortunately, there are far more victims who have never told anyone, and so they suffer in silence fearing that they would never be believed among other reasons.

Parents and guardians are left wondering what we can do to prevent our kids from becoming victims

In the Home Alone and Babysitting Courses, we teach children about what is appropriate and inappropriate touch. We also teach them how to protect themselves from predators and take charge of their safety.

The following ideas may protect your child from the tragedy of sexual abuse and its lifelong devastating effects.

Talk about it

The best prevention against child sexual abuse is to have an open and age-appropriate conversation about it.  Speak to them in a manner that does not instill fear. By speaking about it they will know what to look for. It will also give them the confidence to speak up if someone tries to make inappropriate advances towards them.  Make it clear to them that there are to be ‘No secrets”, and what to do if someone tries to get them to keep a secret. Teach them about their bodies, and calling private parts by their proper names.

What does a sexual predator/abuser look like?

Also, in the Home alone course, we teach children that people who may want to hurt them may not look weird or mean. Often, they are very generous, friendly and look quite “normal”, they do not stand out from the crowd. These strategies are used by predators to make you trust them and feel comfortable with them before they try to touch you inappropriately or hurt you physically.  

Here are a few signs to look for with sexual predators:

They are often the most unsuspected people because they are often not strangers. It may be a close relative, teachers, another parent (step-parent), coach, any person in authority.

  1. Many abusers begin to groom their victims.  They befriend the child as a way of gaining their trust in order to take advantage of their child for sexual purposes. They give their victims gifts, which often advances to a gentle touch (arms around the neck), they create a sense of caring/affection, making the victim feel special. Make it a priority to question your kids about gifts or new toys that you did not buy.
  2. Be aware of new people in your life and the amount of time they spend with your children/family.
  3. They prey upon trusting and vulnerable people as they seek opportunities to isolate the child in order to be alone with them. They may offer to do nice things for them e.g. take them to the park or other outings for you especially those who are single parents.

Make sure you know what someone is doing with your kids.

Keep in mind that anyone can be a sexual predator. We can’t discriminate them just by their looks. About 30% of sexual abuse occurs in a relationship with a family member, and 60 percent of abuse takes place with someone else known by the victim.

Sometimes as parents we let our guard down especially with those who are paid to provide a service e.g. a therapist, coach, youth leader, dance teacher, etc. Don’t trust people so easily because they are the “professionals”. Trust your instincts, if something feels uncomfortable, pay attention and do not ignore it.  Parents need to help children understand that if someone makes them feel uncomfortable in any way, including those in authority, they can confidently resist that person and tell their parents.

Watch for change in behaviour.

Make sure that your child knows that they can talk to you about anything and that you are available to listen and validate their feelings.

Does your child demonstrate strange behavior or conduct or resist spending time with a person? Has he suddenly withdrawn or performing poorly in school? Has there been a change in his/her sleep pattern? These are all telltale signs that something is wrong. Investigate and show lots of love and attention and encourage your child to open up.

Prepare your kids to take charge of their safety.

  • We do this by talking about the prevalence of sexual predators and educate them using the language they can understand.
  • Develop a safety plan
  • Educate them about keeping secrets
  • Do role plays and practice skills with them

Street Smarts: Following the Rule of the Road

Street Smarts

Whether they are walking to the bus stop, walking in the parking lot or walking with friends to school, all kids are pedestrians at some time or another during the school day.

It gets more complicated as their safety can be compromised as they are more preoccupied with electronics/social media devices.

In our Home Alone Safety Course, we teach kids about pedestrian safety.

Here are some tips:

  • Heads up and electronics down while crossing the road. Distracted walking is one of the leading cause of pedestrian injuries. We teach kids not to have their electronics out while crossing the street.
  • Stop and look both ways before crossing the street.
  • Do not walk between parked cars.
  • Make sure the vehicles are at a complete stop before entering the crosswalk
  • Make eye contact with the driver to be sure that the driver sees them.
  • Remind them to walk on the sidewalks or paths and cross at the street corner, obeying all traffic signs. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing the traffic.
  • Pay special attention to vehicles turning at the intersection, vehicles backing out of driveways.

 

Fire Safety

Fire Safety
  1. Install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on each floor and inside and outside of every bedroom.
  2. Check the vents for the dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace outside
  3. Keep matches and lighters away from young children and teach your kids the danger of playing with them.

Take care of your smoke alarms according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Below are some general maintenance tips. 

  1. Replace the batteries at least once every year.
  2. Replace the entire smoke alarm every 10 years.

Practice an escape plan regularly with your family; there should be two ways out of every room and how to respond to the sound of a smoke alarm.

 

Facts About TV And Furniture Mishaps

Facts about TV and Furniture Mishaps

Every day a child is either seriously hurt or dies from a television tipping over.  Every day more and more children are seen in an emergency because of a TV tip-overs.

We can help keep our children safe from tipping TV’s and other furniture when we:

  1. Securely mount flat -panel TVs to the wall with studs and ensure that the panel can handle the weight of the TV.
  2. Recycle old TVs, arrange to have a charity organization pick it up once you have decided that it is no longer needed.
  3. Keep heavier items lower to the ground to avoid a child from climbing to reach for an item.
  4. If your TV sits on a stand, make sure it is sturdy enough to hold the weight. Secure the TV to the stand and the stand to the wall.
  5. Keep remote controls, toys, and other items that might attract children off TV stands or furniture.

Always Supervise your children!