Child Abuse Recovery Journal

The new home of Suite101's Child Abuse & Recovery Feature Writer, Susan Maree Jeavons. Susan is a child abuse survivor who provides articles, commentary, poetry, support, and information on topics related to child abuse.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Know Who Is Befriending, Coaching, or Teaching Your Child

Do you know who your neighbors are? Do you know who your children’s friends, teachers and coaches are? More likely than not, you probably don’t know many of them. Why? Americans are too busy trying to survive in a world where the cost of living out paces wages greatly. We are too busy running here and there, keeping appointments, doing chores, taxiing children to school events and extracurricular activities. The results of this could be devastating!

  • Three houses down, a stranger sits naked behind a curtain, watching a 9-year-old child, your child, walk to school alone. None of his neighbors know that he is a convicted child molester. He has not registered with the police department in this town. They don’t know that he is here, waiting to find his next victim.
  • 11-year-old Sarah has gymnastics practice after school. She is top in her class and dreams of being in the Olympics some day, but she is afraid to tell her parents that her coach touched her inappropriately. She doesn’t’ want to do anything that may ruin her chances. So she keeps her secret to herself, and puts up with his sexual advances.
  • 14-year-old Charlie is a "C" student, and has to stay after school to be tutored. The young, blonde teacher tells him he is sexy, and Charlie thinks she is gorgeous. He is flattered by the gifts she brings for him, and by all the attention she gives him. Eventually, Charlie is molested by the teacher, but he does not see it as rape, and thus, does not report the abuse.

All these stories are fictitious, but could easily be the true story of a child in any town in the USA. Parents need to make their children’s safety a #1 priority. To do that, here are a few safety tips:

  1. Talk to your children. Tell them to never walk alone, and to always have a buddy with them at school events or after-school practices. Tell them no matter what age they are, no one has the right to touch them inappropriately, or make them feel uncomfortable in any way. Let them know they can come to you with any problem.
  2. Check with your local police department to see if there are any sex offenders living near you or your child’s school. You can also do on-line searches for predators in your community.
  3. Check to see if your school district does criminal background checks on all employees, if not-demand that they do.
  4. Communicate with your child’s teachers, coaches and friends.
  5. Have a secret family code word that must be known, if anyone but you or your spouse has to pick your child up from school.
  6. Do not put your child’s name on the outside of his or her clothing, backpacks or other items.
  7. Teach your child that it is OK to say no to an adult , if that adult’s request is something that may harm the child in any way.
  8. Don’t allow your child to spend the night anywhere that you do not know all the adults who will be in charge of your child’s safety.
  9. If possible, attend your child’s after-school practices, and other events when you can.
  10. Teach your child to tell someone they trust immediately, if someone harms them in any way.

These are just a few tips for parents. The most important thing you can do to keep your child safe from predators, is to communicate with them. Use age-appropriate language when you talk about sexual abuse. Though you may feel uncomfortable talking about this subject, doing so may save your child’s life.

For more information:

State Sex Offender Registry Web Sites

FBI Kids Page - Safety Tips for Kids