Updated: Jan 13
5 Urgent Questions Every Parent Should Ask in 2020
to Help Prevent Sexual Abuse
The start of a new year is the perfect time to evaluate your parenting strategies and safety plans for your children. Several essential sexual abuse prevention strategies help empower children. Having a prepared parent who knows the facts, eliminates the risks, and responds proactively is your child’s best defense. Sexual abuse prevention is an adult responsibility, and sexual abuse is preventable. The new year is in full swing! Take this time to reset family safety strategies. Make sure to review, assess, and implement a 2020 safety plan for your family.
5 Essential questions for parents to think about:
1. Do your kids know the anatomically correct words for boy and girl private parts?
Research shows that when children know the correct terminology and can communicate their knowledge and education on the topic, they become a less appealing target for predators. Sex offenders are looking for easy targets. Prepared children and educated families are harder to access and groom. Refresh your sexual abuse prevention strategies with a review on body boundaries, body terminology, private part rules, trusted adults, family safety plans, and consent.
2. Do your kids know how to identify their feelings?
Sexual abusers can be tricky and play manipulative games with kids. Sexual abusers take advantage of a child’s lack of emotional awareness during the grooming process. We all know that when something feels wrong, it’s usually wrong. But, kids can be easily manipulated by experienced predators to believe otherwise. One way to alleviate this problem for children is to help kids become more aware of their feelings, identify and talk about them. Make sure your children know they can speak to you about anything, anytime. As your child begins to notice their feelings, they can avoid certain situations that make them feel uncomfortable. Open communication between parents and children will help your child report any unease or concern. Sometimes, children can be embarrassed to share or ask specific questions on awkward topics. A family question box or communication journal can help. You can encourage your children to write down questions or journal about the things they are not ready to verbalize.
3. Does your family have a code word?
If your child is at school or a play date, it is a great idea to give them a code word. If you get a call or text with the code word- parents come immediately to pick up with no questions asked until later. Many parents have implemented the code letter “x.”
“X” indicates something is wrong, and they can’t talk, but they want you to pick them up right away. Young children might be more comfortable with more concrete words like “red flag” or “storm.” Pick a code word for your family and run through a few practice sessions to make sure everyone understands how and when to use the code word.
4. Have you practiced real-life kid scenarios your child could encounter in a typical day?
You will need to rehearse “what-if” situations and come up with a think, say, and do strategy.
For example, “ what if you are on the bus, and a friend pulls down his pants and shows you his private parts?” What should you think, say, and do? As we know, 90% of child sexual abuse happens with people we know. Therefore, rehearsing real-life situations kids may encounter will help them be prepared and seek assistance immediately from a trusted adult.
5. Do all of your devices have safety settings and filters installed?
A major overhaul is probably required for all tech in the house. Leaving a child unmonitored and unsupervised on any device is a recipe for disaster. Always check the history on the search bar and implement safety programs STAT! Your little seven-year-old can accidentally bump into harmful violent or pornographic images. Without adequate safety programs, curious tweens can access a plethora of online porn, adult chat rooms, and disturbing images. Please don’t assume your little angle is safe, make sure they are. Ensure all location settings are off on social media apps, except for the settings that help you locate or track your child. Research some of the new apps and services that help parents manage this daunting task like, https://www.bark.us/. Bark provides smart, proactive monitoring of social media, texts, emails, YouTube, and more to help parents identify risks and get ahead of problems before they happen.
To be more proactive, all parents can take a sexual abuse prevention course in 2020.
There are many free courses and valuable resources out there for parents.
For more information check out www.d2l.org and sign up for the Stewards of Children Program. Or, check out my FREE mini-course -