Children can begin the process of learning how to protect themselves against abduction and sexual exploitation as early as they are old enough to articulate a sentence. As parents, it is our responsibility to educate children to prevent kidnapping. It is also our responsibility to educate our children about molestation and sexual abuse.
Experts recommends that we teach our children the following:
Basic identity details
Teach your children their full name and date of birth, the full name of parents or guardian, complete residential address, and at least two to three phone numbers (of the close family).
What to do if they are lost
Tell them that if they are lost at a public place, they must not wander around. They should go to a checkout counter, the lost-and-found counter, or the security office and tell the person in charge that they are lost.
Children must always ask your parents, teacher, or caregiver before going anywhere with any person. They must check first before going into a neighbor’s house or anywhere else. The parents or caregivers must always know where the children are.
Develop and use buddy system
It is a procedure in which two individuals, the “buddies”, operate together as a single unit so that they are able to monitor and help each other for safety. Children must be taught to use this system and told not to wander around the neighborhood after dark or when they are alone.
Don’t help adults
Tell your children not to assist an adult stranger or even an acquaintance. No adult should be asking any child for assistance with something, like asking for directions or to look for a lost puppy. Adults should ask adults, not kids.
Stay away from pursuers
Tell your children that if a person follows them (on foot or in a car), they must stay away from them. They shouldn’t go near such a person or talk to them.
Scream and run away!
Tell your children that their legs and voice are their best defense if someone tries to take them away. Shout, “I don’t know this man (or woman), and he’s bothering me.” Children must be taught through role-play to scream and run in dangerous situations. Tell them to call 911 on any phone, when they can. Tell them it’s a free call and they don’t need money for it.
Don’t take free rides
Make it very clear to your children that hitchhiking may put them at risk.
Don’t keep secrets
Teach your children to never keep any such secrets that make them feel uncomfortable. Tell them that no one should ask them to keep a ‘special secret’. If anybody ever asks them to do so, they should tell an adult they trust.
Our body is special and private
Teach your children about the inviolability of the human body. Tell them that no one should touch their private parts, nor should they touch anyone else’s.
Share your problems
Tell your children that if they have any problem, whatever it may be, they should talk to their parents, a teacher or counselor, a police officer, a family friend, or another adult who they trust.
Call 911 in emergencies
Inform your children about 911 emergency service, and teach them how to call at this number in case of emergencies or any dangerous situation.
Safety Tips for Parents/Caregivers
Here are some safer tips that every parent should know and follow. Read and share this info with your children.
Listen to your children
Don’t discourage them and believe what they tell you.
Keep track of your children and know where they are at all times. Also, be familiar with their activities and friends.
Encourage your kids and build their self-esteem
Self-esteem is very important. A child with low self-esteem would often fail to protect himself/herself in adverse situations. Learn about your children’s fears, listen to them attentively, and be supportive in your discussions with them so as to replace fear with knowledge.
Tell them their bodies are private
Make it very clear to your children and keep reminding them that no one should approach them in a way that makes them uneasy or feel uncomfortable. Especially, tell them that no one should touch them at their private parts, and if someone does so, they must tell the parents.
Protect home-alone kids
Set ground rules and emergency contacts for children to be left alone at home.
Be sensitive and alert
Watch for subtle signs and changes in a child’s behavior. They are signals that you need to talk to your child about the cause of any abnormal changes.
Empower children with knowledge
Rehearse safety situations and empower your child through knowledge. Play the WHAT IF? game with them to prepare them for dealing with emergencies. Teach them everything they need to know for being safe and secure.
Make them feel protected
Let your children know how much you love them and that you will always be there for them and do your best to protect them.
Teach them how to make good decisions
Human beings begin to take decisions and make choices from a very young age. Help your children in practicing with early little decisions so that it becomes easier for them to make big decisions later in life. Teach them to trust their guts and feelings. Also, assure them that they have every right to say NO to whatever they feel is wrong.
Children learn from their elders, and they always need positive role models around them. They need to know where to go for help and support when they need it.
Choose caregivers carefully
Interview exhaustively and monitor closely all babysitters, group leaders or youth pastors who are to be in close contact with your children. Be alarmed if an adult or teenager is paying unusually high attention to your child or giving them expensive or inappropriate gifts.
What to Do If You Catch A Molester?
Sexual abuse is a serious crime. If you believe someone has molested your child or any other child, do not try to handle it yourself! When caught, a predator will always say that it was their “first time” and he will also promise never to do it again. But he will be lying and he is good at it. Call the police and report abuse! The best thing one could for one’s own child and for the other children (past or potential victims of the predator) is to report the crime to the authorities. If a molester has preyed on your child, he will do it to others too unless he’s stop stopped.
Brad Nakase, Attorney
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