- Educate yourself and stay informed: Although child abuse is a difficult topic for all of us, we cannot turn away from it. Read about it, understand the warning signs or red flags of perpetrators, be able to recognize symptoms of victimization, and know how to help your child. As I did last week, I will give you references at the end of the blog.
- Investigate, research, run background checks, and do your homework: Before you move into a neighborhood, before you enter your child into any day care, school, organization, etc., before your child goes alone anywhere - learn everything you can about this person or place and make sure you have reason and evidence to trust your decision.
- Communicate with your children - age appropriately: I cannot stress this enough! If your children don't know what is bad or wrong or abusive behavior and if they are threatened by the perpetrators not to tell, how will they know what to do? There are excellent age appropriate materials available - get them now and start the conversation. Then, keep the conversation going! See references below.
- Get to know your children's real life neighborhood and their net neighborhood: Most parents or guardians know some of their children's friends. Get to know all of them. Get to know their parents or whoever else is living in the home! Sadly, most parents do not know their children's net neighborhood. This is so important! Don't assume they are safe, especially if you don't know where they are spending time and with whom! If you have not already done so, please get your family on a Family On-line Safety Agreement. This is absolutely mandatory.
- Monitor, supervise, and/or randomly check in on your children: When our children were little, we checked up on them constantly! We didn't want them to get hurt! I believe we must continue to do so, especially if we have given or granted them a significant degree of access or freedom. Parents often ask me, "Am I invading my children's privacy when I monitor what they are doing?" My short response is, "No, this is your responsibility - to protect them." My longer response is, "If you have communicated to your children ahead of time what you expect of them and that you will be monitoring, or supervising, or checking in on those expectations, your children will know that you care, and they will feel safer." Don't give in or give up, especially when your adolescents or teens are rolling their eyes or talking back! And, don't pull away from them; believe it or not, teens need you just as much now as they did when they were little!! Perhaps even more! They just have a different way of showing it!
You have the opportunity to be the most significant influence on your children's lives.
How you choose to parent them, how involved you decide to remain in their lives and for how long, and to what degree you maintain your vigilant commitment in support of their well-being - all of these factors will be a strong contributor to their safe navigation through the social dangers of our time. Remember ~