You may have received a notice of a registered sex offender that moved close to where you live. Maybe you are concerned because your child walks to the bus stop past the home of a registered sex offender. Maybe you have the OffenderWatch App on your child’s phone and have located the registered sex offenders located near them. Now how do you talk to your child about sex offenders?
How do I Talk to My Kids About Sex Offenders?
Grade-schoolers can begin to understand that a person who appears nice can have hurtful intentions.
- Tell your child that while most people care about children and would help them in any situation, some choose to hurt children.
- Stress to your child the importance of being cautious of people they do not know.
- Your child should not walk or ride bikes in the neighborhood without adult supervision, or if old enough, they should only do so in the company of two or more friends.
- Say that an individual who was in prison lives nearby.
- Use the notice to point the individual out to your child and tell them to stay away from that person.
Answering your Child’s Questions
Many children will accept your directions for steering clear of the person. Others will have questions. You will need to explain further because if you do not, they will find someone else to ask. You want your child to get their information from you.
Child: Why was that person in prison?
Parent: They hurt a child.
Child: What did they do?
Parent: They touched the child inappropriately, in their private areas, which is a crime.
Child: Why did they do that?
Parent: Some things you will not understand until you are older, and this is one of them. I do not completely understand it myself.
Even after your explanation and warning, you might need to see that an adult escorts your child and their friend’s home from school and you may want to keep them from roaming the neighborhood on their bicycle. If approached by the individual in question, tell your child to get away quickly. They should let you know what happened when they get home or tell an adult nearby, or if they have a cell phone, they should call you.
Here are some more basic safety skills:
- Teach your child to trust their feelings and say NO and run away from a situation that does not feel right.
- There are some strangers that can assist them if they need help – other parents with children, other children, police in uniform or store clerks.
- Teach your child to dial 911.
What if my child is contacted by a registered sex offender?
Do not confront the individual. If the behavior of the individual seems inappropriate, contact your local law enforcement, and inform them of your suspicion. If your child received an email or text message, be sure to save it and take a screen shot of it. If you received an email or postcard notice about an offender, contact the local agency listed on the notice. Or call your local Sheriff’s Office. Your local law enforcement will investigate for you.
Download the OffenderWatch App
Download the OffenderWatch Family Safety App and locate registered sex offenders near your address, your child’s location, and track your child. You can also set up an account for your child and get alerts if a registered sex offender contacts your child through call, text, or email. Click to learn more: https://offenderwatch.com/offenderwatch-family-safety-app/.