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Some child predators are extremely clever. Their tactics aren’t as transparent as we once believed. Which honestly makes it scarier for parents.
A lot of the tips our parents gave us are simply obsolete today, and predators can easily trick children into a false sense of security.
Staying away from individuals offering candy, an animal to play with, or anything nice without you around is still relevant today. But child predators may have a lot more up their sleeve today to gain a child’s trust. Here are some tips to keep your children safe from predators.
It is important to teach your kids to stay away from strangers. But “stay away from strangers” is not the best way to posit the lesson. The word “stranger” may connote, to a child, the image of a mean, scary individual. In reality, a predator will likely approach a child in a nice manner, and isn’t always scary looking. Additionally, all a predator has to say to a child is that they are “friends with their mother/father”, and that child may no longer see them as a stranger. Stress to your child that it doesn’t matter whether an individual they don’t recognize is nice or not. Stress to your child that someone’s attitude, or what they have to say, has nothing to do with their intentions.
Another tactic child predators might use on children is to ask for their help. Make sure your child knows that no adult should ever ask a child for help.
You may not always be around to pick up your child from school or activities, where they are monitored by adults up until it’s time to go home. You may have to ask another adult you trust to take them home. Predators could be waiting around the corner, looking for children without a parent. Share a code word phrase with your child and the trusted adult who plans to pick them up, and stress that they should only go with the adult that remembers the code word phrase. Try making it silly to help them remember.
This is important. We tend to scold our children if they get too disruptive, if they’re yelling or screaming. But sometimes, they need to grab the attention of other adults around them – particularly, if someone is trying to abduct them. Play out a scenario with them and have them practice firmly saying no, screaming and running away. Also make sure they know it’s okay to kick and scream if an adult they don’t recognize tries to pick them up.
If a child is wearing personalized shirts, team uniforms or school clothing, this can actually give a child predator valuable information on a child (such as their name). They can then attempt to approach a child using that information to gain trust, making the child believe that they aren’t a stranger and that they do somehow know them. So, be cautious about letting your child wear clothes that can be identifying.
It’s also a good idea to check your neighborhood for registered sex offenders. Apps like The Sex Offender App will show you where any sex offenders live in your neighborhood. Stay away from these homes if you’re trick or treating with your child on Halloween. Have a safe Long Island summer!