5 Vital Ways to Keep Your Children Safe from Sexual Predators

Protecting your children is a priority for every parent, and yet it’s also possible to become complacent about the dangers that they face and the threats that are out there until it’s too late. Aside from the physical risks, the topic of stranger danger must eventually be broached.

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To avoid worst-case scenarios, here are some actionable pieces of advice which will allow you to prevent your children being targeted by sexual predators.

Educate yourself about child abuse laws in your state

An often overlooked aspect of keeping kids safe is that in order to do so, you need to know what qualifies as child abuse in the first place.

Each state has its own laws relating to this, and it’s a good idea to take the time to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of the rules that apply in your area.

For example, there are differing degrees of abuse in most places, determined by the nature of the crime. So learning about third degree child abuse, which can include sexual contact in addition to the impairment of a minor’s morals, is sensible.

Part of the reason for this is that you’ll then know what types of acts and offenses to look out for. Otherwise, your child might be exposed to improper behavior without you knowing that it’s wrong, and without you realizing that you’ve got recourse to take legal action.

Teach them to be honest

This is a tricky concept to grasp at first, but one which is fundamental to child safety in a broad range of scenarios.

Simply put, if children see that keeping the truth from others is part of normal adult behavior, they’ll happily emulate it. So if a predator asks them not to tell, they may keep quiet about an inappropriate incident rather than letting you know the score immediately.

Discouraging secret-keeping and encouraging honesty has to be more than something you give lip service to; you also have to practice what you preach. In some scenarios, you can always reframe a secret as a surprise instead, such as when you buy a present for your child or partner. That way, the semantics won’t get confusing, and you’ll ensure that your little one is willing to tell you everything, rather than clamming up.

Establish boundaries for behavior

Another important aspect of preventing a sexual predator from targeting your child is making sure they know what types of behavior and interactions are appropriate, which ones are not, and what to do if that line is crossed.

Again, you need to tell them as well as show them, so if you are in public and you notice that some third party is overstepping a boundary, do not be afraid to vocalize this. Kids are very good at picking up on cues from their parents, and how you react to others will give them a framework for their own interactions going forward, even if you are not there.

Likewise, you need to be aware of the boundaries that your own child is comfortable with, and give them the compunction to express where these are. 

For example, rather than telling a child to put up with a sloppy kiss from an elderly relative that they are clearly unhappy with, give them the option to pull away from this and explain that they are right to do so, because they should never put up with situations that put them outside of their comfort zone, especially where physical contact with another person is involved.

Demonstrate that adults are fallible

Children are programmed by evolution to listen to and obey adults. In the ancient era, this was useful because it prevented them from getting into dangerous situations, and it is still a powerful impulse today, because the modern world is just as full of hazards.

However, this backfires in the context of a kid coming in contact with a sexual predator, because they are much easier to groom and manipulate because of this innate drive to do what grown-ups tell them.

We further reinforce this idea as parents by asking our kids to be well-behaved and to do as they are told. This is not a problem, so long as you also show them that adults aren’t always right, and that they have the option to say no to any request made of them, especially if it leaves them feeling uncomfortable.

It’s possible to be pleasant and polite, while still being firm and resolute in knowing your own mind and not bending to the will of an authority figure; you just have to be given this important lesson by your parents.

Talk through potential scenarios, even if it’s tough

You can prepare your child indirectly as much as possible, but eventually you will also need to tackle the topic of sexual predators more directly, so that there is no ambiguity in their mind about what they should do if they find that they are being targeted.

A good way of going about this is to pose lots of ‘what if’ questions based around potential scenarios which might occur. Through this, you can give them a blueprint for what to do if someone approaches them, behaves inappropriately or touches their private parts, and emphasize that telling you is a priority and that nothing the predator says to prevent this is the truth.

Obviously you will need to ensure that your child is old enough to absorb this information and understand the importance of what you are teaching them. Furthermore, restate as much and as often as possible that they will never be in trouble for telling you about an inappropriate encounter, and that they are never in the wrong for being victimized in this way.

Wrapping up

Every child is different, so tailoring your approach to keeping them safe from sexual predators according to their personality is something you can do as their parent.

However, these general rules for protecting them are a useful starting point, and the main thing to remember is that while this topic is not fun to discuss with them, it is nevertheless crucial.

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