As parents, you have probably used the phrase ‘Stranger Danger” to describe to your kids those people to avoid. However, some kids will heed the warning from their parents, and some would still go with a stranger if offered candy or to assist in looking for a stranger’s lost dog.
In today’s world, it’s even scarier because “strangers” can now attempt to contact your kid in real life and online.
Although it is a sensitive topic, the best defense for your kids against child sexual predators is to start the conversations early so they are educated and get the correct information from you, and not someone else.
Depending on your kid’s age, the conversation may not be as in depth as it might be with a teenager, but here are some examples of what to say in different scenarios.
If a registered sex offender moves into your neighborhood:
- Tell your kid that someone who has done something harmful to kids has moved into your area.
- Because of this, your kid can only venture out into their neighborhood either with a group of friends or under adult supervision, but never alone.
- If they ask about details of what the offender did, simply say they did something inappropriate to hurt a child.
- Remember to remind your kid that most people in this world do care about kids, but there are also those that do have harmful intentions towards kids.
- Make sure your kid is aware of the address of the house to avoid, and if there is a photo of the individual, share that with them as well, so they can recognize the offender.
- Be open to any questions they have and let them know they can come to you to talk about this matter at any time.
- Some young kids may not comprehend the subject matter and think it’s a joke or not going to affect them. Tell them to take the situation seriously and reassure them that you are trying to protect them, not just scare them.
Many kids today, as young as 7, have a cell phone. This makes them easily accessible to strangers anywhere. Whether your kid plays online games, talks to other players in chat rooms, engages on social media, or sends texts to “friends”, they could be chatting with or contacted by a child predator.
- The first thing you need to remind your kid is that everything posted on the internet and even messages sent through their phone, could get into the wrong hands, and used against them.
- Teach them to respect their bodies and not share any compromising photos of themselves or other kids. And remind them to not share any personal information with those they do not know in real life.
- If they get a text or message online from a “stranger” or new “friend” that makes them feel uncomfortable or scared, they need to immediately come to you so you can take action.
- Conduct some “what-if” scenarios to help your child identify warning signs that something is not right, so together you can prevent them from being lured into a bad situation.
Having these conversations does not make you a “helicopter” or nosey parent. It doesn’t even mean you don’t trust your kid.
Having these conversations could prevent the unthinkable and it gives them the tools they need to protect themselves.
Download the OffenderWatch App, the family safety tool that allows you to track your kids, locate registered sex offenders near your family and send you alerts if your kid is contacted by a registered sex offender through call, text, or email.
Learn more: https://offenderwatch.com/sex-offenders-near-me/.