Messages on Personal Safety
Parents can reinforce these messages on personal safety:
- “I’m on your team.”
- “I’m on your side. I will always try to help you as best I can, no matter what you tell me, no matter how uncomfortable it is.”
- “I love you, and it’s my job to help keep you safe.”
- “Not everyone in the world cares about children. If someone makes you feel bad or sad, tell me about that, and I’ll try to help.”
- “You never have to worry that I won’t believe something you tell me.”
- “If someone tells you to keep a secret from me, I want to know about that.”
- “Sometimes people we know and trust disappoint us or hurt us in some way. It’s always OK to tell me about those times.”
- "It’s up to you to allow someone to hug or kiss you. Your body is precious and your own. You can choose who you want to hug or kiss. Nobody should ever force you to do something you don’t like."
As children enter tween/teen years, parents can continue to add progressively more challenging topics:
- “What would you think if someone tried to do something you thought was wrong, or someone tried to make you do something you didn’t want to do. How do you think you might response?”
- “Would you feel OK telling me about something going on with one of your friends that made you scared or anxious?”
- “There are people in the world who hurt kids. Trust your gut, your instincts. If someone makes you feel bad, tell me about it.”
Protect your child on the Internet.
- Learn about the websites your children use regularly. Visit websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and others. See what other kids are doing there and how much information you can learn by doing simple searches. Parents need to be aware of what is happening online.
- Keep computers in common rooms of the house. Many children have laptops and computers in their bedrooms, allowing them many opportunities to spend hours online, potentially engaging in inappropriate behavior.
- Know how to set parental controls and check browser history files.
- Set the rules about internet safety and your values early on. Teach young children that they should not seek out relationships from online friends and that they should NEVER meet online friends in the real world. Encourage your child to never give out their personal information.
- Make any topic of conversation an acceptable topic of conversation. Many teens and pre-teens seek out adult relationships online. Ensure that your child has a support system in the real world.
Parents should also be aware of the policies that child-serving organizations have around child protection. Parents can ask and can expect straight answers on the following:
- “What is your policy about one-adult/one-child interactions? How do you keep those to a minimum?”
- “What kind of screening and interview processes do you use to make sure that emotionally mature and stable people are interacting with my child?”
- “Do you do background checks? What about after someone is hired?”
- “What kind of training do you offer to your staff and volunteers to ensure that everyone knows how to recognize and report abuse?”