Take the Child Safety Quiz.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) offers a range of practical information for parents and care-givers that will help keep their children from harm. The site also features an interactive quiz on child safety designed for both adults and children. To take the quiz, visit the NCMEC website at www.missingkids.com and click on Child Safety.
Teach your child the word 'stop'.
Teach your child to respect the word 'stop!'. Teach your preschooler that stop means stop and that your child has the right to stop people from touching his or her body. Obviously, exceptions will have to be made for doctors and parents, but even parents must listen when a child doesn't want to be tickled or hugged anymore. Reinforcing this excellent lesson gives your child the power to recognize - and to stop - 'bad touching' by others if it should happen.
Teach kids to protect themselves at home.
We consider our homes to be safe places for our children. But being home alone can pose risks for children. Here are a few tips to teach kids that will help keep them safe when you are not with them at home:
- Never answer the door.
- Do not invite anyone in the house without permission of a parent or caregiver.
- Don't tell anyone on the phone that your parents are not home, instead tell them your parent's can't come to the phone and take a message.
- For more tips, please visit www.kidsafe.com
An appropriate way to report inappropriate behavior.
How should you communicate your concerns to someone who may be behaving inappropriately with children? The 'I' message is a simple way to reframe what you want to say so that the listener hears you speak of your feelings and concerns rather than hearing a compaint against him or herself. The 'I' message, simply diagrammed, says, "I feel [feeling] when [situation] because [reason]." For example, you can say, "I feel anxious when you drive a child home alone after religious education, because that could put you or the child in a potentially risky situation." It is a much more constructive approach than saying, "You shouldn't be driving children home alone because it is against the rules and puts them in danger."
Where do your kids spend their time?
You can help keep your children safe by knowing where they spend their time. Get to know the adults who show up at the various locations in the community where children gather and where they play together. Be wary of any adult who seems more interested in creating a relationship with a child than with other adults. Pay attention when an adult seems to single out a particular child for a relationship or for special attention. Warning signs include treats, gifts, vacations, or other special favors offered only to one specific child.
Summertime, Safe Time
Summertime is almost here, and parents shoud remain vigilant regarding who is granted access to their children during their time at camp. Make sure camp counselors have undergone criminal background checks. And make sure you know the camp's daily routine. In particular, make sure that no camp activity results in a child being left alone with one adult. All activities should be supervised by more than one adult, and the camp should be open to unannounced visits from parents.
Always keep an up-to-date photo of your child.
Picture this: A good photo could save a child's life. One of the most important tools for law enforcement in a case of a missing child is an up-to-date (take a new one every six months), good-quality photograph. The photograph should be a recent head and shoulders color photograph of the child where the face is clearly seen. It should be of school-portrait quality, and the background should be plain or solid so it does not distract from the subject. When possible, the photograph should be in a digitized form and available on compact disc (CD), as opposed to just a hard copy. This minimizes the time necessary to scan, resize, and make color corrections before disseminating it to law enforcement. The photograph should have space for accurate, narrative description useful to identifying the child, such as name, nickname, heights, weights, sex, age, eye-color, identifying marks, glasses, and braces.
What do molesters look like?
Child molesters belong to every profession, gender, and ethnic group, and they live in rural, urban, and suburban areas. There is no 'look' about them that indicates that they are a danger to the physical and emotional health of our children. It is imperative that we look beyond demographic characterisitics and focus on the behaviors of adults when they are around children. We must regularly refresh the basic knowledge and actions required to keep children safe.
Prevalence of child sexual abuse.
Child sexual abuse is a great deal more prevalent than many imagine. In fact, studies tell us that one in ten adult men and one in five adult women say they were molested before the age of 18. That means that, directly or indirectly, child sexual abuse will touch most of us during our lifetime. And although we would like to believe that most accusations are false, the facts tell us that children rarely lie about being molested. In fact, they rarely tell anyone at all. An adult study about the prevalance of sexual abuse found that 42% of the men and 33% of the women who were victimized as children never told anyone.
Source: United States Conference for Catholic Bishops www.usccb.org