What parents must do
What parents must do
A parent is a child’s best protector.
Unfortunately self-doubt seems to have become part of modern parenting. If parents are to keep kids safe, they need faith in their ability to raise healthy successful human beings. A parent’s intuition and insight springs from an instinctive vigilance over a beloved child – this is a powerful force in protecting children.
The only fatal error in raising children occurs when a parent stops caring what happens to that child – for then a child is truly lost.
Trust your insides
Sometimes the signals of a person’s warning system are no more than vague feelings of disquiet, a sense that something is wrong, which may be ignored if others don’t share the same reaction. For example a parent may hesitate to respond to requests if your kid can sleep over at their house or can go with on a camping trip – and the hesitation you feel deep inside is internal conflict, an emotional signal that warns you of possible danger. But you ignore it as just a difficult decision to make. Do you make a decision to keep your child happy, or do you trust your gut feeling?
Modern psychology often tells us fears and anxieties are mental problems, and we have to dismiss or medicate them with alcohol or drugs – when they often are extraordinary effective warning systems. Rather learn how to read them. They are most of the time there for a good reason – to protect your offspring.
Strengthen your bond with your children so that predators cannot break it. You can decide for example how much time a child spends with a grandfather to safeguard the child. Parents often feel too intimidated to ask questions and make decisions to keep their kids safe.
The goal of a sexual predator is to separate your child from you. If a mom says ‘’ He would never do that!’’, about someone accused of sexual exploitation, the predator has possibly already managed to achieve a separation between her and the child. It doesn’t matter how incompetent or unfit you feel as a parent – you are better for your child, than any sexual predator that stalks a child.
Teach kids safe behaviour
Don’t be ignorant and think someone else will teach your kids sexual safety in a nice way. For many kids their first sexual education experience is fondling, sodomy, rape or penetration with an object. Most victimized kids never report sexual abuse – they deal with it alone and in silence.
Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes. Resilient children get through trouble more successfully. You can teach your child a set of skills that will help them to be resilient – to figure out solutions when facing challenges.
5 Skills To Teach Kids To Become Resilient:
Pro-active orientation means you teach a child how to solve problems, rather than give them the solutions while they sit and wait passively for rescue or help. Start when they are little by asking questions like “What would you do if someone asks you to take off your clothes?’’ As they grow older help them to analyse and think, to explore more ways to handle difficult situations.
Self-regulation is a youngster’s ability to deal with emotional reactions in a way that improves circumstances. Very strong feelings can be disruptive. If a child has self-control, they can rein in impulsive reactions and delay gratification in their long-term best interest, consistent with their deepest values. Sexual predators use money, gifts and outings to groom children. When children make impulsive choices, because of a lack of self-control, they can easily fall victim to such advances.
Self-regulation involves teaching your kids courtesy and social etiquette. Social etiquette includes teaching kids good manners, respect, how to greet people, how to talk politely, table manners and what is right and wrong. When kids can organise behaviour and decide how to act, they get lots of smiles form adults that generally support a good view of themselves.
Planned parenting is organised guidance, when a parent anticipates a child’s needs and has goals for the youngsters’ behaviour. For example: ‘’by the time you are ten, I want you to learn to take out the garbage. ‘’ This is very different than the random parenting that occurs with a disorganised, upset parent who is far too stressed to focus outside himself. The best indicator of successful planned parenting is the absence of disciplinary problems. Organised parents help kids to be organised.
Attachments to others occur at many levels. Resilient children grow up in a web of helpful and supportive connections. Strong connections to family and friends help kids to develop social skill because they grow up in a setting where they get feedback from others. What the parent teaches at home is echoed by the teacher, the aunt and other role models. As kids improve social skills, they get the pleasant responses that the world offers to pleasant children, which helps self-esteem grow.
They also learn how to differentiate between sincerity and when someone is dishonest and manipulative. They can recognise when someone behaviour is out of line.
Academic achievement is important in developing a child’s resilience because it is the only objective measure of a child’s success as a human being. If a youngster does well in school, they feel normal and accepted according to the one measure that all kids understand. A child with good grades feels smart and hopeful. When hard times come, a child who has learned lots of ways to use his abilities has a layer of protection. When faced with a sexual predator, the child can have faith in his ability to figure out what to do. Rather than avoiding the problem, the child can now confront the problem and exert as much control as is possible.
Talk with children
A career molester knows how to pick up on the loneliness and despair of a child. Conversation is essential in raising healthy kids, because when the young don’t listen, don’t speak and don’t converse they are without preparation for challenging experiences.
Keep quiet and listen to your child. It is very difficult to listen to a child disclosing sexual abuse. All though you are taken off guard by the disclosure, listen. Don’t respond with denial or disbelief. It is a miracle is your child discloses, because most kids don’t.
You child must always feel safe to tell you anything. Kids are afraid to talk for fear they will get into trouble. A parent has enormous power over a child – power to discipline and punish, to condemn and disapprove.
- Don’t call your child names.
- Don’t put your child down. Build your child up. Believe in you child.
- Don’t catastrophize everything. Stay calm.
- Don’t nit-pick on everything. Let it go.
- Don’t run on and on about something. Incessant talking doesn’t help. It cramps creativity.
- Don’t sob. Parents breaking down in tears is upsetting to children.
- Don’t blast off. Parent screaming, breaking things and cursing upsets kids.
Take stock of kids’ lives. Think like a criminal. Also think carefully about your child and his maturity and developmental level.
- How good is your child’s judgement?
- How needy is your child? Is your child clingy, tearful or acting out? Sexual predators target dependent or needy children.
- What makes your child feel worthwhile? Your approval or the approval of others?
- How skilled is your child at dealing with emergencies? Can he put on a Band-Aid by himself? Answer the door or telephone safely? Can your child get himself home safely without help if the situation arises? How creative is your child when a problem arises and there is no obvious solution?
Sexual predators are always on the prowl. They are rarely spontaneous. They have secret lives and hidden agendas and are aware of the odds they can escape detection. Like drug dealers and loan sharks they rarely attack openly. They often draw their victims into a web of illegal behaviour from which it is difficult to escape.
Become an objective viewer of your child’s life. There are no reliable signs of sex offender personality other than the usual indicators of criminality. Rather looking for behavioural patterns that occur repetitively, helps a parent decide when to restrict access to a child.
Example: A grandfather who loves to bathe children or who wants to be alone with them puts children in risky circumstances. Beware of adults or older teens who find excuses to physically touch children through spankings, massages, back rubs and wrestling.
Get to know the children who are your child’s friends.
Get vocal about how you would handle disclosure – sex crimes thrive on secrecy and denial. Your family and friends should know how you will handle indications of sexual victimization of your children. Your children need to know how and why you would handle sexual and criminal activity.
Last but not least: Don’t recycle sex offenders. Have them prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Stand together on this as a family and a community.
8 Things to teach your kids in addition to personal sex education:
Talks about safety and protecting oneself against criminals should start young and carry on right through a child’s life. In the beginning talks will be simple and short – 10 minutes at most. The way a child deals with issues of safety changes as he develops and matures.
Always Have an Escape Hatch.
Don’t ever get into a situation you cannot get out of – Don’t get trapped. The most obvious example is a locked room.
There are however other circumstances from which it might be difficult for a child to extricate himself.
- A sleepover where everyone else is asleep.
- The back of a school bus.
- A ride in a car, boat or motor bike.
- An elevator. Unfamiliar woods.
- In church – alone with a pastor.
- The dressing room at a sports facility.
If you teach a child to always look for an escape hatch, it provides a child some control. Teaching this rule allows a child to be pro-active, because he can look at any situation and decide whether it has an escape hatch and then avoid it if it hasn’t. Avoiding situations that can trap a child requires social skills because there may be pressure for a youngster to submit to an adult’s wishes.
- A child might need to make graceful excuses for the circumstances listed above such as:
- I have to call my mother (from the sleepover) because she said she’d showed up here if I didn’t.
- I like sitting in front of the bus so that I can watch the driver work the bus controls
- My parent said no to the trip.
- Motorcycles make me throw up.
- Oops, I guess that was the emergency button I pushed.
- If I went off into the woods, my mother would kill me.
No adult except a parent has reason to spend time alone with a child.
In all situations, the presence of two adult protects kids. If an adult wants to be alone with a child, it puts the child in a vulnerable position. This is not a guarantee for safety – as their has been many occasions where two adults have molested a child. An example is in Roman Catholic churches where priests have molested children. (Watch the documentary: The Keepers). Use this rule as a general guideline.
Children can be overwhelmed in trying to sort out the complexities of adult-child relationships. A child knows where his feet are and where they are taking him. By focusing downward, he can anticipate where he will end up. If there are only two other large feet in the room with him. and they don’t belong to a parent, he needs to look for the exit.
Pressuring a youngster to keep a secret is an unkind thing to do because kids cannot keep secrets for long. Secrets are a sign of emotional intimacy between two people. Predators intimidate kids to keep secrets. This makes a child feel they are participating in something bad and is the start of separation between them and their parents. It is kindness to instruct kids to avoid all secrets. When a teenager wants a younger child to keep something secret, it indicates risky behaviour.
Keep You Hands To Yourself
Kids are taught they are not allowed to touch other people’s stuff in case they break it. Parents should extend the rule to the touching of bodies. Everyone keeps their hands to themselves. Sexual predators often groom children with touching to break down a child’s inhibitions slowly over time. Teach your kids therefore to avoid any situation where adults touch them. They should learn only parents may touch them as part of caring for them and as an expression of family love.
Adults easily recognize seductive behaviour, but kids don’t. People make sexual advances towards children as well. The person who flatters, who makes constant eye contact, tries to get near you wants to touch you frequently is often the person making a sexual overture. Teach your kids that such person’s are wolf’s in sheep’s clothing and they should be avoided.
Legal and Illegal Behaviour.
Kids feel more confident if they are aware of the basic rules of wider society. They need to know when they are old enough to give consent to have sex. They need to know no adult can force them into having sex. They need to know child pornography is against the law. No one may take photos of them. No one may show them photos of nude people or people having sex.
Protect Other Kids
When kids don’t report the sexual advances of a predator, it recycles the predator, so he is now better prepared to approach the other kids. While kids struggle to report sexual abuse, they are far more willing to report the sexual abuse of others , maybe younger and weaker than them.
The internet separates kids from adults so that there is little guidance or protection for kids online. Adults can teach kids safety on the internet by learning themselves how to be safe. This requires active learning of how the internet works.
If you need counselling or someone to talk to, you can get help free of charge on the MOBIEG Helpline: Live Chat. You may stay anonymous. It is safe to talk to MOBIEG, because no one can trace your chat.
The helpline is online Sunday : 18h00 – 20h30
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Sexual Abuse gets stronger in secrecy. Talk to someone. It will help you to stop the abuse.
If you are unsure if what you experience is sexual abuse, you can do a self-test to learn more: