Child protection Is the responsibility of everyone.
Because children cannot look out for themselves, it is our responsibility to look out for them. Every home and school should establish a program that effectively teaches children about safety and protection measures.
As a parent, you should take an active interest in your children and listen to them. Teach your children that they can be assertive in order to protect themselves against abduction and exploitation. And, most important, make your home a place of trust and support that fulfills your child's needs — so that he or she won't seek love and support from someone else.
The Exploiter or Abductor: Not A "Stranger"
"Stay way from strangers" is a popular warning to children to prevent abduction or exploitation. Unfortunately, however, many children are abducted or exploited by people who have some type of familiarity with the children but who may or may not be known to the parents.
The term STRANGER suggests a concept that children do not understand and is one that ignores what we do know about the people who commit crimes against children. It misleads children into believing that they should be aware only of individuals who have an unusual or slovenly appearance. Instead, it is more appropriate to teach our children to be on the lookout for certain kinds of SITUATIONS or ACTIONS rather than certain kinds of individuals.
Children can be raised to be polite and friendly, but it is okay for them to be suspicious of any adult asking for assistance. Children help other children, but there is no need for them to be assisting adults. Children should not be asked to keep special secrets from their parents and, of course, children should not be asked to touch anyone in the bathing suit areas of their body or allow anyone to touch them in those areas. Often exploiters or abductors initiate a seemingly innocent contact with the victim. They may try to get to know the children and befriend them. They use subtle approaches that both parents and children should be aware of.
Children should learn to stay away from individuals in cars or vans; and they should know that it is okay to say NO — even to an adult. Remember, a clear, calm and reasonable message about SITUATIONS and ACTIONS to look out for is easier for a child to understand than a particular profile or image of a "stranger."
What You Can Do To Prevent Child Abduction and Exploitation
- Know where your children are at all times. Be familiar with their friends and daily activities.
- Be sensitive to changes in your children's behavior; they are a signal that you should sit down and talk to your children about what caused the changes.
- Be alert to a teenager or adult who is paying an unusual amount of attention to your children or giving them inappropriate or expensive gifts.
- Teach your children to trust their own feelings, and assure them that they have the right to say NO to what they sense is wrong.
- Listen carefully to your children's fears, and be supportive in all your discussions with them.
- Teach your children that no one should approach them or touch them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable. If someone does, they should tell the parents immediately.
- Be careful about babysitters and any other individuals who have care of your children.