Child Safety Our Children Have the Right to Feel Safe All the Time!
The First Rule of Safety (for everyone, not just kids)
Someone must always know:
- Where you are,
- Who you are with,
- When you will be home.
- Go places with a friend whenever possible.
Do you follow this rule with and for your loved ones?
Parents and grown-ups in children's lives are their role models. Children mimic the adults around them and expect that the grown-ups can read a child's mind. That's why it's so important for all of us to discuss with our children all the safety issues that may be a problem to a child, and listen when our children try to talk to us.
We teach our children how to cross busy streets, how to ride their bikes safely, how to brush their teeth, proper nutrition, personal hygiene, and not to go anywhere with a stranger. Let's teach them to follow the safety rule - not to go anywhere with anyone unless someone who cares for them knows where they are, who they're with and when they'll be home. (This covers the possibility of someone known to the child attempting an enticement.) We must, as responsible adults, also talk with our children about abuse, particularly sexual abuse. Because approximately 90% of children who are sexually abused are abused by someone they know, it's okay for a child to say "NO" to anyone (even someone they know or a family member) who tries to hurt a child, take nude photographs, or touch a child in ways that are confusing, uncomfortable or upsetting. It is especially important for parents to encourage their child to tell them about any such incidents. If a child relates a problem, praise the child and assure her/him that you will help.
Young children do not make up detailed stories of sexual abuse. They don't have the experience. (Do they?) It's very important to tell the child that you believe them and report the incident to the police or your county social services department for investigation and follow-up. Everyone involved needs help with this problem.
Nurturing physical touch is believed to be necessary to every person's well being. Children can be encouraged to enjoy giving and receiving nurturing touches. Children need to be taught that it's never okay to hurt someone else on purpose. They can also be taught that it's okay to say "NO", "STOP" to someone hurting them on purpose, or to other confusing or upsetting touches. Reassure your children that their world is an exciting, interesting, rewarding place to live and most adults are only interested in the child's welfare. This information is much like learning to ride a bicycle safely or learning what to do in case of a fire. Once you know what to do, you don't have to worry about it. A child's sense of inquisitiveness and loving does not have to be stunted in this process. Teaching these coping skills and strategies is not limiting, it's empowering.