8 Ways to Protect Your Children from Predators
Unfortunately in the world today, predators are stalking our children and making the world an unsafe place. The last thing parents want to do is to ruin the innocence of children. Finding that careful balance between keeping them informed and making them afraid is one of the hardest things a parent has to do. Here are some tips that can help you prepare your child without keeping them in a constant state of fear:
Make Sure Your Child Knows His Information Well
Every child should know his or her name, address, phone number and how to contact emergency 911 services. These things can be taught your child without even addressing the predatory behavior. They are things that every child should know at a very young age anyway. Begin teaching these things to your child when they are old enough to listen. They should become automatic memories for your kids.
Explain to Your Child the Difference between Showing Respect and Inappropriate Requests
Predatory adults are quick to use the built-in, natural responses that kids use against them. They will be quick to offer candy, ask for help or even say that mom and dad sent them. Once the child is close enough, they can be snatched out of thin air it would seem. Because of this, you have to inform your children that there are predators among us. Explain to your kids that they should have respect for their elders, but that does not mean that they must obey every request.
Explain to them that strangers should never be approached and that requests should be brought to the attention of an adult. If a stranger asks them to come to the car, teach them to politely decline and go straight to another adult in the area. Let them know that you will never send anyone to do something without your letting them know ahead of time. Make sure they understand that the police officers are there to help them as well. Certainly there are predators that will use that as well, but you have to draw the line somewhere.
Get Your Child Involved with the Buddy System
Make certain that your child never travels alone and that they know the reasons for this. Yes, it will take away some of their innocence. The stakes are too high for you to ignore. Kids cannot afford to be sheltered these days. Inform your child that they should never go anywhere without a buddy. This will build good habits for the future and will always be applicable. Even adults should travel in twos at least these days.
Stick to the Main Paths
If your child walks home from school or ever finds himself having to go somewhere without you, explain to them the importance of taking the main road. Taking shortcuts through alleys, backyards, woods or backroads is a recipe for trouble. Ensure that they are familiar with the paths they are taking and that you know that path as well. Have them stick to the main roads where there is plenty of traffic and people around.
This Is Not My Mommy or Daddy!
This simple phrase could literally save your child's life. Teach them to yell this at the top of their lungs if they are ever being dragged away or taken. Yelling this will alert the other adults around them and almost certainly draw enough attention to send the predator scurrying. Children are smart about these sorts of things. Make sure they know what to yell and why, and they will be able to remember it if the situation ever presents itself.
Talk About What They Would Do On Occasion
Discussing it can eliminate a great deal of apprehension for children. The unknown is the scariest thing that we face as humans and so it is for kids. Talk it over and ask them what they would do in certain scenarios. You might be shocked at the answers that you get. Kids are smarter than we give them credit for. There are plenty of things you can teach them during these sessions. Little tips like:
-Ducking into a store or safe public place if they feel uncertain
-Remembering, adults never ask kids for directions
-Being polite without being unsafe-Asking for help when they are scared and who to approach
-How to defend themselves if they are facing the situation (biting, kicking, screaming, etc)
Helping Them To Not Be Afraid
All of these things are scary to us and to the kids and they will sometimes keep that to themselves. It is your job as a parent to answer their questions and to comfort them. The important thing is to focus on the fact that the vast majority of people are good. Because of the bad ones, we have to follow certain safety rules to keep ourselves out of trouble.
Nobody wants to tell their children that bad and evil things happen in the world. The cost of not doing so is so high, however, that we are forced to do so. Despite this unwanted burden, we don't have to make it so heavy of a subject that kids are terrified. The key is to inform and then comfort.
Explain to them that they are protected in many ways and that you are always on the lookout for them. They are just learning how to do their part to keep themselves safe. If kids partner with their parents, they are far more likely to not be targeted or attacked by a predator.
What About Known Offenders in the Area?
There are many ways to find out if there are known pedophiles or predators in your area. As a parent, it would not be a bad idea to look them up and inform yourself. If a known offender lives on the walk to school, shouldn't you be aware of that? That might determine whether you allow your kids to walk or not. Look them up online for free and you won't have to worry about that nearly as much. At least you will have the known threats under watchful eyes.
The online predator
These days, it is not enough to keep your child safe at school and while they are away. They can be in trouble right under your nose with the advent of the Internet. The pedophiles of the world will use this avenue to bring your kids in, so you have to inform them of this as well.
The best way to protect your kids online is to monitor their time on there and use parental controls that come with most any computer these days. This particular strain of predator is very dangerous and should not be overlooked.
Having your kids safe from predators is mostly about information and preparation. If you give them the information and prepare them for what to do, you can feel pretty safe about things. Take plenty of time to impart that safe feeling to your kids as well.