Children are told not to talk to strangers. They are taught to be cautious and not to easily trust someone not known to them or their parents. They are taught to trust
people known and trusted by their parents and to do what they are told. Stop It Now!
report that in 93% of child sexual abuse cases, the child knows the perpetrator, and approximately 47% of perpetrators are family or extended family members. These statistics are based on available information. However, 88% of sexual abusers are never reported, and their identities are not known.
It is difficult to protect
your child against people that you know and may admire and appreciate. No one can tell who a sex offender is by outward appearance, conversation, occupation, reputation, history, education, financial status, or volunteer work and community contribution. Sex offenders can appear to be extraordinarily nice, charismatic, and kindly.
How do you protect your child against strangers? The Boy Scouts of America
publishes a "Child's Bill of Rights" which instructs children that they have the right to:
- Say no to physical affection (hug, kiss) or other physical contact form an adult or older juvenile.
- To expect privacy - it's not ok for an adult to walk in on someone when he is taking bath, shower, or using the toilet
- To trust their intuition if they feel that someone is not safe
- To refuse to accept a gift from someone
- To say no to demands from an adult that seem unreasonable or inappropriate
- Not answer an adult's question if it feels unsafe (personal information)
- Be rude if necessary
- Run, yell, scream, make noise, attract attention
- Physically fight off advances from adult or older juvenile
- Ask someone for help
The Center for Women and Families provides safety rules for parents to follow and guidelines for protecting their children. Some of the areas it discusses include:
- Always know where your child is.
- Never leave your child alone in a public place - bathroom, parking lot, or toy department at local store. Strangers looking for children will be looking there.
- Never put your child's name on external clothing. If a stranger knows the name, he may call it and the child will come to him and trust him.
- Make sure that your child understands what homes he is allowed to go to and not go to in the neighborhood. Provide boundaries for your child's protection.
- Know your child's friends, families, and safety of the homes he may visit.
- Pay attention to who pays attention to your child.
- Always respect your child's reluctance to spend time with someone.
- Participate in your child's activities. Observe the teacher, coach, and sunday school worker with your child. Do not take for granted that this is a safe person.
- Do not make fun of your child's fear. It may be appropriate, not unreasonable, fear.
- Talk to your child. Keep the lines of communication open.