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When it comes to the safety of our children, it is better to be proactive than reactive. A strong parent/child relationship with open dialogue is one of the greatest safeguards against predators. While most of us would prefer to ignore the existance of predators, tactics they may use and what they are after; we have a responsibility to our children to arm them with the knowledge to protect themselves.
Children should know that they have a penis or a vagina. They should be told that if they are speaking about these parts they should use the correct words. Abuse reported to friends or authority figures by children using "cute" names and phrases can and have been repeatedly misunderstood and therefore left unreported to law enforcement. Also, recognize the message we are sending our children by labeling body parts after foods or with nicknames. We don't call our feet or "fifis" they are FEET. We don't call our hands "cookies" they are HANDS. As parents we are educators, we must be honest and direct.
Tell your child that no one should touch their private areas and that no one should ask them to touch their private areas. In addition, children should be told that they don't ever have to do anything (with regards to their body) that makes them uncomfortable. We are all blessed with an internal compass that keeps us safe. Hugging, embracing, touching or kissing should never be forced. Children should be told to report to you immediately anyone that breaks body boundaries.
Perpetrators tell the child to keep the abuse secret. Tell your child that ANYONE that asks them to keep secrets from their parents are WRONG, especially when it comes to their bodies. Tell them if ANYONE ever says not to tell you something, it is the most important thing that they tell you.
Abusers will oftentimes convince victims they will be in trouble themselves if anyone finds out. Don't let them use this! I encourage truth in all things but most importantly a child must know they will never be in trouble for telling you or an authority figure the TRUTH about body safety or secrets.
This is often missed by parents and it can be found all over the internet. There is a huge network of pedophiles that take and trade pictures of naked children. This is an epidemic and it puts EVERY child at risk.
This can go for anytime and anyplace. If your child is in a situation where they are uncomfortable and they can call you, use the code word or phrase (like " I miss our old dog Roscoe" or "Can we have cake tomorrow?") to alert you without alerting the other person.
So many children do not report abuse that they know is wrong because they fear their parent will lose control and they will go to jail forever. Children will suffer abuse in secret to protect their parents. Please, explain that if something awful like abuse happened, you would fight that person legally and always be with your child to protect them.