How to Keep Your Kids Safe from Sexual Predators

You can’t check the news today without seeing at least one story of a sexual predator who took the innocence of a young child. Here are ways to keep your kids safe from sexual predators.

As a parent, this is one of the worst fears that you could realize. When someone victimizes your child, they may have well victimized you too (and you likely wish that was the case so that you could carry the burden instead of your precious little one).

However, this doesn’t ever have to become your child’s reality and here are some ways to do your best to ensure that:

Explain good touch versus bad touch

Your child needs to be aware of what is normal touch (such as with a parent bathing a child and helping them wash) and what is harmful touch so that they can recognize when someone tries to victimize them.

You can do this by explaining how areas under their bathing suits are off limits. Teach them to trust their instincts and if they feel uncomfortable when someone touches them, even if they aren’t sure if it is good touch or bad touch, then they need to let you know.

Educate them as to things a predator may say to them

The best way to help your child not fall prey to a sexual predator is to educate them about the lines that predators will likely use. A lot of pedophiles will tell their victims that it is their “secret” or that “everyone does it, but no one talks about it.”

Some threaten harm on the child’s family if they tell anyone, or they tell them that their family will be disappointed in them. Let your child know this up front so they recognize these tactics if someone tries to use them on them.

Make it easy for them to talk to you

mother with her child

If you want your child to come to you in the event that something happens, you’re going to have to make them feel comfortable to do so.

Keep the lines of communication open by not flying off the handle and creating a situation where they’re afraid to tell you what is going on in their lives.

And, when they talk, truly listen to them even if you have a hard time hearing what they have to say. In addition, listen just as intently for what they aren’t saying as you do for what they are.

Teach them that not all adults are good (whether they’re family or strangers)

This one is tough because most people picture sexual predators as strangers, but the unfortunate reality is that many are not. Therefore, it’s very important to teach your child that no one can touch them inappropriately.

Not family, not friends and not strangers. Don’t put a family member on such a high pedestal that the child fears going against them if they do something they shouldn’t.

Give them permission to say “no”

As parents, you usually teach your child to obey authority. You may want them to have a healthy respect for parents, grandparents, teachers, police officers and on and on, so you remind them that they don’t have to like the rules, but they do have to live by them.

While this is true for the most part, you also need to help them understand that at certain points they have the right and the obligation to say no to someone in a position of power.

If someone is mistreating them, then you want them to say something not only to protect themselves, but also to protect any other potential victims as well.

Know the signs

Sometimes, regardless of how hard you try to keep your child safe, bad things can happen. And, your child may not always tell you about it so you have to figure it out on your own. You can do this if you know what to look for.

According to WebMD, here are some signs that your child may have become the victim of someone else’s abuse:

  • Their personality changes. If your child was normally pretty outgoing and gregarious and now they’ve become withdrawn and quiet, this may signal that something major has happened to them and they’re struggling with how to deal with it.
  • They have sudden, intense fears. Is your child now deathly afraid of a particular person or situation without any outward reason to be?
  • They engage in sexual behaviors. Does your child do things that appear to be sexual in nature? Maybe you notice that they start touching themselves or others in sexually suggestive ways. If so, this could be a sign that they’ve been touched.
  • They act out. Look for signs of aggression or anger whether they’re playing with their toys or with other children. They may be looking for an outlet to express what is going on inside of them.
  • There are changes in their sleeping behaviors. Are they sleeping more or less than normal? Do they have nightmares a lot?
  •  Look at their drawings. Are they dismal and grey, with a dark side? Do they picture themselves as happy or sad, or do they portray someone else as mean and unkind?
  • Their eating behaviors change. If they start to eat more or less than what is usual for them, it could be a sign that they’re being abused (although this one is sort of touchy as children’s eating behaviors also change when they’re about to go through a growth spurt).
  • Look for physical cues. Do they have any sort of discharge in their private areas or unexplained bruising or unusual marks? If you ask about them, are they unsure how to answer you?

What to do if you suspect abuse

If you feel for any reason whatsoever that your child may have been the victim of sexual abuse, you’re going to want to seek medical care immediately. A doctor or hospital can do a physical exam to possibly determine whether abuse has occurred and, if it has, to what extent.

You’ll also want to make a police report. Authorities need to be brought into the picture so that they can figure out who is responsible and take the necessary action to not only protect your child from further victimization, but also to keep other children from facing the same fate.

This will likely be a scary time for your child, so you have to make sure they know that you are with them every step of the way. They also need to know that what happened to them wasn’t their fault and that you’re not angry with them.

Finally, get them the help they need. There are wonderful and extremely qualified professionals who know how to give your child the tools they need to overcome what has happened. If you don’t know one in your area, you can always ask for referrals from the police or protective services.

Way too many children are being sexually abused. However, when you educate yourself and your child you’re taking steps to make sure that they’re not one of them. Give them a fighting chance because they can use all the help they can get.

About the author

Christina DeBusk

Changing careers mid-life from law enforcement to writing, Christina spends her days helping others enrich their businesses and personal lives one word at a time.

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