Parenting: SEX TALK Part 5—The Top Ways to Protect Your Kids from Predators
Coach them early on what is good touch and bad touch.
Discuss healthy personal, relational, emotional and sexual boundaries. While we want to encourage our children to be expressive and affectionate, they should be clear on limits of sight and touch that show healthy respect and privacy. Extend these limits to include family and extended family, too. For the sake of clarity – privacy boundaries should include your “private parts” or what would be under a child’s bathing suit.
Guide them to safe relational engagement in age-appropriate ways.
Start while they are in pre-school by age 3 or 4 years. Each family should determine how to best convey the boundaries in age-appropriate language. This type of discussion should be developmental and progressive over the years by adding more awareness while reviewing the previous safety concepts. Discussion should continue into the mid-teen years.
Encourage them to expose discomfort and “yuckiness.”
They shouldn’t have to keep secrets or make promises with those adults that they either don’t know or aren’t comfortable with. Silence about coercive activity and awkward interaction should be broken. All interaction with anyone that in any way makes them feel uncomfortable should be brought up and talked through with a trusted parent.
Work to have them feel secure and safe with you.
Though every parent may assume they are approachable, children often feel different. How you treat your child on a day-to-day basis with care and gentleness opens the door for them to feel free to come to you when they really need to. Tell them often that you love them and that they can talk to you about anything.
Invite open dialogue about all outside relationships.
Initiate discussion about how things are going with all their friendships, their schoolmates, their times away from home and any sleepovers. Check in on how they feel about time spent with extended family members, teachers, coaches, club leaders and any other significant adults in their life.
Give them coaching on predator tactics.
Discuss what makes a person a stranger. Your goal is not to make your children suspicious or paranoid but to make them aware and confident. Instruct them on how they may be approached by a predator and explain to them the kinds of ploys that might be used. Go through these possible scenarios with them and coach the best responses in each case. Have them practice what they should say or do;
- If approached by a stranger – which strangers should be talked to?
- If someone wants them alone, to keep secrets, or offers gifts.
- If someone invites them into their car.
- If someone makes them feel uncomfortable or afraid.
- Discuss when they should kick, fight, scream, run or scratch.
NOTE: Keep reinforcing that if anyone or any situation makes them feel “weird”, to always go with their inside feelings and to tell mom & dad!
Develop a family code word that only your family members know.
Creating and reinforcing a “code word” allows your child to confirm whether an appeal from a stranger ~ “your mommy is hurt and she wants me to take you to her” ~ is really one they should heed and is “family safe”. Pick a word outsiders wouldn’t know like the name of their first pet – “Canti-Joe” or a special Christmas gift – “my little pony”.
Talk through your family safety net when children are away.
Staying over night at someone’s home should have specific safety measures in place. Younger children should not be allowed to play in rooms behind closed doors. You should know the parents of the home of the sleepover and have talked with them. You should discuss your family guidelines on television, computers, and safe play. Encourage the child to feel free to call home or come home if they feel uneasy or afraid.
Control your family’s Internet world.
Put your computer in a very public place in your home with a “no closed doors” policy. Be sure to have a child safe Internet filter to prevent your child from accidently going to dangerous places. It will also block any attempts from outside predators. We suggest you look into programs like Net Nanny, CYBERsitter, or Be Safe.
Explain how predators work online.
Educate them on not giving out personal information ever without parental approval. If they do get solicited or contacted in any way, have them tell you right away. Remind them that in no situation should adults that they don’t know be asking for personal information or photos or to meet with them. Enlighten them on imposters – those adults posing as children or teens online. Reward them for being a “good cop”, as they are protecting other children in the future, too.
Explain how predators work in person.
Teach them about going slow relationally with new adults in their world who are exceptionally friendly and accommodating. If their parent’s give the okay sign then they should relax totally. Yet remember that predators “groom” kids by trying to build trust even with the parent in some cases and with the child over time. They look for the vulnerable, lonely and emotionally insecure kids that need support and provide it.
Pray with and for your child’s safety daily.
Don’t walk in fear; walk in trust. Intentional parenting where you educate yourself in the issues mixed with faith in God and His protection will lead to the best-case scenario. God cares for your kids even more than you do.
Note: Exceptional help is available for parents by watching the Marriage Uncensored with Dave & Christie TV episode on Protecting Your Child from Predators. Link to follow soon.
Learn more here: The DFR Sex Talk Series
*Podcasts are also available for Sex Talk Part 1, 2, 3, 5: HERE
Image used with permission from 123rf.com/image#46787272
© Dr. Dave Currie – December 2011