Prepared by JCS Yehi Ohr
Yehi Ohr provides safety kid sexual abuse prevention programs in schools throughout Miami-Dade County.
1. Have open discussions with your children about personal safety.
As early as age three, children should understand that parts of their body are private (those covered by a swimsuit), and that it’s not okay for others to touch these private areas. Children also must understand that they may not touch, look at, or talk about other’s private parts. By opening this discussion, you’ll be empowering your kids to keep safe.
2. Establish and respect physical boundaries.
As parents, model appropriate boundaries at home and create an environment that makes everyone feel secure. Before camp, discuss with your child how they plan on maintaining boundaries and privacy during changing times. Stay alert to situations where those agreed-upon boundaries may be compromised, both at home and in other settings.
3. Teach children to be persistent and clear in setting boundaries and asking for help.
Children who set strong boundaries-and know how to get help-are less likely to be targeted and more likely to cut short inappropriate behavior. Help children practice saying “NO” or “STOP” in situations that make them uncomfortable (e.g. they don’t want to be hugged, tickled, or kissed, or they simply feel uncomfortable around a particular person).
4. Tell your children never to keep secrets from parents.
Predators almost always manipulate children through secrets. They will tell kids: “This is our secret. You can’t tell your mom because she’ll be very mad at you.” Let your children know that no one may ever tell them to keep a secret from their parents.
5. Don’t take sleepovers lightly.
Before allowing your child to participate in a sleepover, do your homework! Make sure you are personally comfortable with the hosting family. Will the parents be home? Will they be supervising? What are the plans for the sleepover? Who will be there and what will they be doing? Trust your instincts and only say yes if you feel comfortable.
6. Before sending your child to camp, evaluate the program for safety.
Before registering your child for a camp, make sure the administration prioritizes the safety of all campers. Ask questions about camp policies related to camper safety. Find out how staff is selected and trained.
7. Think beyond “stranger danger.”
Instructing your child never to talk to strangers is good advice. But the truth is that 80-90 percent of abuse is committed by someone actively known, loved, and respected by the child. Parents must be aware of red flags.
8. Believe your child.
Establish a trusting relationship with your children. If you constantly question what they say, they may be reluctant to tell you if something has happened to them. Let them know that you will believe them and that they will never be in trouble for sharing issues.
9. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate.
Communication is key. Talk to your child about his or her day. Show interest in their success, disappointments, and anxieties.
10. Recognize signs and symptoms that your child may need help.
The sooner adults recognize potentially concerning situations and behaviors, the better protected children will be.
JCS wishes you and your children a fun-filled, relaxing, and safe summer!
For more information about summer safety or counselor training, please contact Safety Kid Program Directors Melissa Brail, LMFT at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 305-672-8080 or Zisa Levin at email@example.com or call 305-403-6547.