In case you missed this important and informative teleclass, presented by Jill Starishevsky, here is a link to the taped class on Keeping Your Children Safe From Predators. During the teleclass, Jill discussed The Innocence Revolution and how we can all get involved.
Jill helps parents educate their children about the issue of molestation on her website, mybodybelongstome.com which is full of helpful resources like this list of preventative tips.
1. No secrets. Encourage your children to tell you about things that happen to them that make them feel scared, sad or uncomfortable. If someone, even a grandparent, were to say something to my child such as, “I’ll get you an ice cream later, but it will be our secret,” I firmly but politely say, “We don’t do secrets in our family.” Then I say to my child, “Right? We can tell each other everything.”
2. Don’t dress children in clothing or accessories with their name on it. Customized clothing can help create a false sense of trust. If a stranger says your child, “Jenny, your mom told me to bring you home so you can have dinner,” your child may be more inclined to go along because this person knows their name.
3. Teach your child the correct terms for their body parts. This will make them more at ease if they need to tell you about a touch that made them feel uncomfortable. Inform children that the parts of their body covered by their bathing suit are private and are for no one else to see or touch (noting the necessary exceptions for bathing, potty issues and medical exams in the presence of mom or dad).
4. Practice “what if” scenarios. Say to your child, “What would you do if someone offered you a treat or a gift when I wasn’t there?” Help your child arrive at the right answer, which is to say “no” and ask you first. Many parents also encourage children to walk or run away in this situation.
5. Teach your child their name, address and phone number at an early age. If a child has their parent’s cell phone number, the child can be reunited with the parent more expeditiously.
6. Prepare a child with what to do if they get lost. Teach your child to find a safe person if they become lost. A safe person is a police officer, someone in the store with a store uniform or name tag, or a mother with children. Children should also learn to stay in the general area where they last saw you so you can find them when you retrace your steps.
7. Internet safety. Install a safety browser on your computer so that you can make the decisions about which websites are appropriate for your children to view. Teach your child never to give out their last name, address or phone number to a person on the Internet and never to meet Internet friends in person without a parent’s supervision and consent.
Teach children not to post pictures with identifying information such as a school uniform. Ideally, children should not post pictures on the Internet at all. Always keep your computer in a public area of your house, not in a child’s bedroom.
8. Let children decide for themselves how they want to express affection. Children should not be forced to hug or kiss if they are uncomfortable. Even with your favorite aunt, uncle or cousin, your child should not be forced to be demonstrative in their affection. While this may displease you, by doing this, you will empower your child to say “no” to inappropriate touching.
9. Teach your child that adults do not need to ask children for help. Predators use tricks to lure children, for example, asking them to help find a lost pet, give directions or help carry something. When you are sitting down talking to your child, use these examples as part of your “what if” scenarios to reinforce the lessons about safety.
10. Teach children the buddy system. Children should learn it is safer to be with a friend or trusted adult than to be alone. Encourage children to trust their feelings if something doesn’t feel right, they should get away and tell you about it immediately.