Child sexual predators are all too real and all too scary for any parent to consider. But, as parents, we have to be smart, proactive, and in-the-know.
When my kids were growing up, Bret and I had very specific rules surrounding the company they kept. Some of them may seem extreme. And that’s okay. You do you.
Tip #1: (Almost) no sleepovers
My kids weren’t having sleepovers at peoples’ homes — unless I knew both parents. And I’m not talking about having just met them in passing. I mean, I’ve spent time with the parents (e.g., out to dinner, been in their home, etc).
Tip #2: Megan’s Law
Do a Megan’s Law check to find out if predators live in the neighborhood.
Tip #3: Female babysitters only
84% of child sexual predators are male.
For that reason, in my home, there were never any male babysitters. You’re like,
“Gosh, my son babysits and he’s wonderful and that’s horrible for you to say!”
Yes, there are exceptions, of course, but when the sexual predator odds are what they are… you just don’t mess around with the numbers, mmmkay?
Be offended, if you like. That was my rule. Trust me, I know you know this one guy really well — this awesome youth leader with so many great qualities. Wonderful, but you better cue into your intuition. Oh, and your intuition better be good. Like, really good.
Tip #4: Don’t trust appearances
Sorry, but you can’t look at someone and tell if he (or she) is a child sexual predator.
Let’s say, God forbid, your child has been abused. It doesn’t mean your kid will respond in any sort of predictable way. You’re thinking,
“Oh gosh, well my kid would clearly be upset if they knew he was coming over.”
False. A sexual predator knows what he’s doing. Play games, tickle the kids, bring them toys, and treats. They know how to befriend.
That really nice neighbor you’ve got — the older gentleman who has offered to watch your kids — who happens to be a widower now? The answer is still no. Sorry not sorry.
Tip #5: Family danger
80% of sexual abuse committed to children is done by someone in their inner circle — often a family member. It’s not stranger danger. It’s familiar danger.
So, notice if you’ve got a relative or a family friend or so-and-so’s boyfriend who is just is a little too into the kids and wants to watch movies under the covers. Ummm, no.
Tip #6: Therapy
Get your child into therapy. Don’t think that they seem fine, they’ve forgotten about it, or they’re not affected by it at all. Children may be very, very resilient… but they don’t become drug addicts, for example, until they’re in their 20s. Future suffering can be avoided if you can get them help early.
Don’t decide to get them into therapy when there’s a behavioral problem or when they’re exhibiting problems of self-harm or they’re rebelling. No, get them into therapy as soon as you can — even if they seem great. Why not give them that advantage?
If this happened to you and you haven’t dealt with it, you haven’t processed it with the help of a professional, there’s so much more potentially you could be doing with your life. I promise you.
This particular subject hit close to home recently and caused me to flex some major investigative muscles… not to mention, get really territorial and angry. You need to hear what and why on The Chalene Show, with episode:
Protecting Our Children from Sexual Predators | Why We Must Believe Our Children.
You’ll find MUST-KNOW tips on how to react if your child tells you they’ve been abused, what signs to look for if you suspect your child is abused, my daughter’s recent story on abuse hitting way too close to home, and a MUST-LISTEN podcast recommendation about one of the most infamous sexual abuse scandals in history. LISTEN NOW!