Safety Tips: Protecting your child from abuse
Keeping children close and safe from harm is a big part of raising kids. Often, when thinking about safety, efforts are focused in areas such as wearing helmets or knee pads when riding a bike; holding hands and looking both ways when crossing the street; assisting with falls and scrapes or providing comfort when children are sad.
However, talking to children about safety with other adult's, especially those that are familiar, can be a tough and sometimes scary discussion to have. Although it's difficult, it's important to educate children about the harm that could come upon them and what to do if something does happen.
Tip #1: Make sure your children know their full name, address, and telephone number, as well as the emergency number 9-1-1.
Tip #2: Teach your children the correct names for all body parts—including genitals, anus, buttocks, and breasts—so that they are comfortable talking about them.
Tip #3: Explain to your children that their bodies belong to them and that they have a right to say “no” to touches that bother them or make them feel uncomfortable.
Tip #4: Talk to your children about keeping secrets and that keeping secrets about private parts is not okay.
Tip #5: Encourage your children to tell you about any uncomfortable experiences or touching that happens. Make sure they know they will not get in trouble for telling you about things that upset them.
Tip #6: Get to know the people your children are spending time with—playmates and their parents, neighbors, childcare providers, relatives, and school staff.
Tip #7: Make sure you know where your children are at all times. Create a rule which states that they check in with you when they arrive at or depart from a location, or when there is a change in plans. Also, let them know when you are running late or your plans change so that they know the rule is for safety purposes and applies to all family members.
Tip #8: Screen babysitters and caregivers. Check references before deciding on a caregiver. Once a decision is made, drop in unexpectedly to see how your children are doing. Ask them how the experience with the caregiver was, and listen carefully to the responses. Consider giving children their baths and dressing them for bed before the babysitter arrives. The fewer personal duties you give the babysitter, the better.
If your child discloses abuse, strive to remain calm, noncritical, and nonjudgmental. Tell your children that they are doing the right thing by telling you. Seek out healthcare providers and support such as Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS), who can advise you on the best way to assist your children and family.
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