To protect your kids, they must be taught how to fend for themselves against unwanted touches. It’s impossible for parents to always be there for their children, and the most likely dangers come from people you won’t suspect, and are part of your children’s lives. But there are several things parents can do to make their child the most difficult target around.
What Makes Your Child An Easy Target
Here is a list of some traits that a molester may look for in picking his or her target:
Low self esteem – Children with lower self esteem are more willing to participate in anything that makes them feel special or needed, even if it is abusive.
Children who are overly shy – Children who are quiet and shy generally possess the other traits needed to make a great secret keeper.
Single parent households – Children who come from a single parent household are at a greater risk because they often search for substitutes for their missing parents from people outside of their home. This can be dangerous if their affections fall on the wrong person, which is a more likely scenario than parents usually imagine.
A child who is overly subservient / fearful of adults – Children who feel they have to do anything an adult or person of authority asks them to, obviously, are at a greater risk of being abused.
Parents that are ‘too busy’ for their children – Probably one of the biggest risk factors, children of parents who are always busy make great targets. Not only are these children eager to make up attention and get any type of affection that they can receive from an adult, but they have little rapport with their parents and seldom engage in meaningful conversation with their parents. As such, they make the perfect target for a molester. Even as hectic as life is at times, parents need to be there for their children when they need or desire attention.
Make sure that you as a parent are clearly visible, as are your interactions with your child. When you ask your kids questions about their day, do it in front of those they were with. Stay an extra few minutes at the school and interact with your child. Do everything you can to make yourself visible as a parent.
Have Others Read Your Child Prevention Books
Have others who provide care to your children read them our kids books for abuse prevention. Not only will this send any potential molesters the message to keep their hands off, but it also makes the material more effective when it’s reinforced by people other than the child’s parents.
Give your elementary school child a notebook to carry around as a daily journal. Instruct them to write down quick notes about anything and everything; funny jokes they hear, silly things that happened, or anything else they want to talk about. You can also use it yourself; jotting down quick notes or feel good messages for them to read. You might even give them little projects or games to play, such as “Today I want to hear about 3 funny things your teachers do” or “Write down the 3 kids in your class who you thought had the best outfit. Review their notes at the end of each day. It’s a great way to improve communication between you and your child.
The “tell me” List
A variation of daily journals is to have children do ‘tell me’ lists with others. When someone else takes your child for any reason, instruct them to keep a pen and paper in their pocket and write down a list of things that your child wants to tell you about when they get back. Put both adult and child in charge of adding things to the list that your child wants to tell you about when they get back. (For Example: Janey had fun wrestling with me, we saw a funny looking dog at the park, she missed you at dinner and wanted to write down that she loves you, there was a big storm and she wanted to tell you about the lightning and thunder, etc.) Put both adult and child in charge of adding things to the list. Explain to the caregiver that the purpose behind this is to train kids to tell you about everything they do. When they get back, have the caregiver use the list to remind the child about the different things they wanted to tell you about. Most people will be eager to help out. This can be done with kids of any age, even those who can’t write yet.
Surprise Calls and Visits
Call the school, child care center, or babysitter at unannounced times and ask to speak with your child. Ask them about how they are doing, make sure everything is OK, etc. Or drop by for a surprise visit.
Reinforce Prevention Concepts in Front of Others
Reinforce prevention concepts in front of everyone you know. Send your child to school with one of our printouts to read to the class. Print extras to give to your child’s friends or distribute around their sports team. Keep some safety books lying around the house when the babysitter comes by. Most importantly, interact with your child in public in ways that reinforce prevention principles.
Ending Note: Everyone that is around your child, no matter how well you think you know them, is a potential molester. Through these actions, you are sending out the message that your child is protected. This can greatly reduce the chances of someone trying something to begin with.
More Information Abuse Prevention:
- Step 1: Raising Sexually Healthy Children
- Step 2: Healthy Body Awareness
- Step 3: Teaching Children to Trust Their Instincts
- Step 4: All About Touches
- Step 5: Everyday Rules
- Step 6: A Child’s Rights
- Step 7: Empowering Your Children
- Step 8: Coaching & Bribes
- Step 9: Proper People Perceptions
- Step 10: Defeating Secrecy
- Step 11: Asking the Right Questions
- Step 12: Making Your Child A Hard Target