13 Things Parents Can Do To Protect their Children

Parents should choose opportunities or "teachable" moments to reinforce safety skills. If a crime occurs in your community, and your child asks you about it, speak frankly but with reassurance. Explain to your children that you want to discuss safety with them, so that they will know what to do if they are ever confronted with a difficult situation. The following are tips from the California Department of Justice on protecting your child from sexual predators:protect child from predators

- Explain to your children that it is wrong for adults to engage children in sexual activity. Use plain, age-appropriate language that they will understand.  

- Stress to your child that he or she should feel comfortable telling you anything, especially if it involves another adult.

- Make an effort to know the people with whom your child is spending time, such as parents of friends, coaches, tutors and neighbors.

- Teach your children about their bodies. Help them name their private parts and emphasize that no one can touch them without their permission.

- Make sure you know where each of your children is at all times. Know your children's friends and be clear with your children about the places and homes they may visit. Make it a rule that your children check in with you when they arrive at or depart from a particular location and when there is a change in plans.

- Never leave children unattended in an automobile, whether it is running or not. Remind children NEVER to approach a car, or engage in a conversation with anyone in a car who they do not know or trust, or go anywhere with anyone without getting your permission first.

- Be involved in your children's activities, such as sports and after-school activities. As an active participant, you will have a better opportunity to observe how the adults in charge interact with your children.

- Listen to your children. Pay attention if they tell you that they do not want to be with someone or go somewhere. This may be an indication of more than a personality conflict or lack of interest in the activity or event.

- Notice when someone shows one or all of your children extra attention or begins giving them gifts. Take the time to talk to your children about this person and find out why the person is acting in this way.

- Teach your children that they have the right to say NO to any unwelcome, uncomfortable or confusing touches or actions by others.

- Be sensitive to any changes in your children's behavior or attitude. Look and listen for small cues and clues, such as withdrawal from favorite activities or excessive clinging to parents. Talk gently to them about what’s going on. 

- Be sure to screen babysitters and caregivers. Check references and do background checks through the Internet (it can cost from $7-$20 per search). Ask your children how the experience with a caregiver went, and listen carefully to their responses.

Practice basic safety skills with your children. At the mall or a park, have your child practice checking in with you, using pay phones, going to the restroom with a friend and locating the adults who can help if they need assistance.

Updated August 2012