As I was reading through the comments on the How do we protect our kid’s post I couldn’t help but think about how valuable and insightful this information on child protection was.
The amount of time, thought and experience required to provide some of the comments was truly astounding.
I thank all the professionals in child protection, child legal services, forensic psychology and child counseling services as well as those of you with personal stories for taking the time to share your knowledge and experience.
Rather than waste these precious gems I thought I would put them to good use by compiling a checklist of sorts containing all the great strategies and tips for child protection generated by this discussion.
While the original discussion was centered on sleepovers, it is never the less advice that can be used in all manner of ways to help you put in place strategies for child protection in general.
So here we go…
15 Top Strategies For Child Protection
- Create an open and supportive family environment where children are encouraged to talk to parents about everything. Sexual offenders typically do not target children who are confident and clearly well supported in their family unit.
- Make a blanket rule regarding sleepovers that you are comfortable with e.g no sleepovers until high school or until the age of … That gives you the opportunity to say no in any circumstance for any reason. It also gives you time to assess your child’s confidence in these matters.
- Don’t feel pressured to let your children sleepover someone’s house because that is what everyone else is doing. If you don’t feel comfortable than don’t be bullied into saying yes (and see above).
- Ring and check on your child during the evening – ask to speak directly to them. If an offender is going to offend, there is nothing anyone can do to stop them, however as parents, we can and must do whatever we can to make our children the least attractive target as possible.
- Develop some kind of code with your children so that they know that they can call you anytime if they feel uncomfortable or threatened or if they just want to come home.
- Teach your kids the difference between surprises and secrets. Surprises are things that people will all find out soon. Secrets are things that people tell you that you can never ever tell. Teach your kids that if anyone tries to tell them a secret, especially an adult, they need to tell dad or mum as soon they can.
- Educate your child about their bodies and what is OK and not OK to touch. Teach them the correct names for their body parts and their functions (within reason).
- Make sure that your children know that the only people who will touch their private parts are dad, mum and the doctor when they are sick. No one else is allowed. If anyone else touches those parts then they should tell dad or mum as soon as possible.
- Train your children to ALWAYS tell when someone touches their private parts. For example, we tell mum when dad washes our privates or we tell dad when mum does. Additionally, we always tell the other parent whenever our daughter touches mum’s or dad’s private parts during bathing or any other time. The idea is to break the veil of secrecy usually surrounding this and enable your children to police these events themselves. e.g. “Dad, you forgot to tell mum that you washed my vagina!”
- Make a little rhyme or song to help kids remember. For example: “Don’t touch my penis, don’t touch my bum – ‘cause if you do then I’ll tell my mum.”
- Tell them that if anyone touches them in a way they don’t like, even if it is a peer, to come and tell you and if they are not believed at first to keep telling until someone does something. Children DO know what kind of touching is inappropriate. Just tell them that if it makes them feel sad or angry or frightened, it is wrong.
- Teach your child to trust their instincts or that feeling in their tummy. If you or your children get a strange vibe from someone then don’t ignore it. Trust your feelings and take the time to find out a little more about that person.
- Be wary of adults who get to close too soon. If something seems too good to be true then it usually is. The serial offender will attempt to gain YOUR trust first in order to gain access to your children.
- If your child tells you something ensure you believe them even if your instincts are screaming that it can’t be true. This is especially common when the allegations are aimed at a partner or husband. We obviously trust them with our lives and our immediate reaction is disbelief when we are told that they have done something like that.
- Always remember that opportunity can play a key role in the incidence of child sexual assault. Be vigilant and present in the company of the adults who are to supervise your children. Ensure they know you have a close and open relationship with your children.
Thanks again to all of you who helped compile this list on child protection. In reality nothing is fool proof. It’s more about putting as many safeguards in place as you can and ensuring your relationship with your kids is open and strong.