Feather / Keeping Kids Safe Over the Holidays
It’s the holiday season. Who wants to talk about child sexual abuse prevention?
The holidays are actually a perfect time to have family conversations about keeping kids safe because family and friends are gathered and it’s symbolically a time for meaningful connection. Moreover, the vast majority of child sexual abuse, however hard to acknowledge, happens within families. Check out these two brief articles below.
• Tips for Talking about Prevention over the Holidays
• Supervising Children’s Play over the Holidays.
Have a fun safe time with loved ones.
Your Partner in Prevention,
Tips for Talking about Prevention over the Holidays
It’s the holiday season. Let’s talk prevention! Here are three specific suggestions for making child sexual abuse prevention a conversation topic with friends and family during your holiday.
- Invite friends and family into a conversation about keeping kids safe from child sexual abuse. Each person has his or her own communication style, but here are a couple of ice-breakers to consider:
- Let people know you went to a Parenting Safe Children workshop and why you’ve decided to invite all of the adults in your child’s life onto your prevention team.
- Hang your body safety-rules poster in a prominent location, like the Stiever Family poster to the right, and let your family members and friends know about the rules and why they are important.
- Consider giving a friend or family member Off Limits: A Parent’s Guide to Keeping Kids Safe from Sexual Abuse, with a personal inscription about why it’s important to you.
- Bring up body safety just as you would any other safety topic – e.g. “I’m so glad you got a car seat with all those safety components. Can I tell you about our latest safety measures?”
You probably have other ideas for, and success stories about, inviting people onto your prevention team. Please share them on Facebook so we can all learn together.
By communicating these safety practices in front of other adults, you are modeling prevention and opening the door for conversation.
- As children go off to play, remind both the children and the adults about your family’s four body-safety practices:
- Everyone plays with their clothes on.
- No one touches private parts.
- We don’t keep secrets.
- If you feel unsafe in any way, come tell a trusted adult.
Grandma: “Oh, it’s so good to see you. Give grandma a hug.”
- The holidays are a time of greetings and affection, so it’s particularly important to remember that children and teens are safer when they get to choose when and with whom to show affection. If a family member or friend wants to greet your child with a hug or kiss, and your child does not want to, then you are being presented with a wonderful teachable moment and an opportunity to stand up for your child and model healthy boundaries.
Mom or Dad: “I know you’re a hugger, Mom, but we’ve taught Ben that he gets to choose when he shows affection and it looks like he doesn’t want to hug right now. Ben, is there another way you'd like to greet grandma besides hugging her."
Supervising Children's Play over the Holidays
You’ve just eaten a big meal and the children, of all different ages, are restless. They want to go play while the adults linger over coffee. What kind of supervision is required to ensure everyone’s safety?
Children can get into scenarios while playing which can be compromising. Remind kids to keep the doors open and review body-safety practices with them (See article above.) Also let the kids know to come ask if they need anything and let them know that you’ll be in to check on them from time to time.
Pay particular attention to much older children who are playing with much younger children—i.e., an age difference of four or more years. Consider these scenarios between Justin (14 years old) and Jaime (6 years old), and note the behaviors of potential or actual concern:
Children need supervision regardless of the setting. Listen to your intuition and speak up if you feel uncomfortable. And always remember to listen to your children.
- Jaime repeatedly pulls Justin out of the group of kids and disappears with him. (teen isolating a child from larger group)
- Justin squeezes Jaime’s buttocks several times. (sexualized teasing)
- Justin squeezes Jaime’s buttocks when Jaime has asked him to stop. (poor boundaries)
- Justin shows Jaime an adult porn magazine. (sexually harmful behavior)
- Justin swears Jaime to secrecy about a special place in the basement. (secrecy)
Meaningful Gift Ideas
- Register a friend or family member for a Parenting Safe Children workshop.
- Give a signed copy of Off Limits: a Parent’s Guide to Keeping Kids Safe from Sexual Abuse.
- Donate to Stop It Now, a non-profit organization with national reach that is preventing the sexual abuse of children by mobilizing adults, families and communities to take actions that protect children before they are harmed.
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Curious about the most shared post of the month?
"When you have the "avoid getting raped" conversation with your daughter, it is difficult, as you don't want to imagine her as a victim. The idea of having the "don't rape" conversation with your son is more difficult as you don't ever want to imagine him as a perpetrator." Check out the rest of this post from December 3, 2014.
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