Protecting our children from people that would hurt them is an ingrained response of parents. With all the terrible stories you see on the news, it can be a frightening feeling to let your kids out of your sight even for a little while.
1 in 5 girls and 1 in 8 boys will be molested as a child. This proves how real the possibility is and that we need to take action to make sure our children don't become a statistic.
Did you know that 90% of the time, a predator has a relationship to the victim? They will often key in on vulnerable child. One that needs extra attention or seems to lack confidence.
Here are some key red flags to look for.
- Someone who singles out your child to give special attention. This can be an older child or adult.
- Noticing that your child has new things that you didn't buy for them.
- You child talks about places you haven't been with them as though they know them.
- Someone who tries to spend excessive and alone time with your child. They might offer to help you out by taking them for awhile without pay.
- This might be a person who comes often to the house or tries to take your child to activities.
- Partaking in one on one activities that don't require anyone else present.
- Someone who stares at your child a lot.
- Someone who prefers to spend more time with kids than adults.
- Someone who shares to much personal, private and adult information with your child.
When a predator doesn't look like a predator, what can you do as a parent or authority?
-Know the people in your child's life. Drop in unannounced from time to time.
-Listen to your child's concerns and uncomfortable feelings.
-Only 1 in 5 kids reports sexual abuse. Be aware of outward signs. Anger, withdrawal, sleep issues. Physical signs, incontinence, infections, stomach aches, headaches. New language
-Listen to your child and offer total support if they do confide in you.
Teach your children body safety.
-Have a small group of trusted adults they can talk to about anything.
-Remind them that secrets can hurt and make a policy to not allow any kind of secrets in your house.
- Use the right terminology to body parts so there is no confusion.
- Help them establish their boundaries. Let them know what is considered private (anything covered by their bathing suit plus their mouth) and not for anyone else to touch. Don't make them hug or kiss people if they don't want to.
This doesn't mean we have to be afraid of everyone, but that we should be vigilant in watching out for our children. Intercept a potential threat before it becomes more. Just because you might see a warning sign does not mean that this person is necessarily a predator but it does give you the opportunity to remove the possibility. If you suspect a predator, don't confront them. Take the situation to the authorities, social services, etc. It could hurt your case to tip off a predator before they are caught.
Here are a few resources if you'd like to know more.