Ten Practical Ways to Keep Kids Safe From Predators
The past couple of weeks, we’ve been talking to and praying for friends who’ve been dealing with a great grief. Their young son was molested while he was visiting with his beloved grandparents. It was a young adult, a trusted friend of the family, who victimized their child. The parents are heartbroken.
Sadly, this is happening more and more frequently. As more and more people become enslaved by porn, more of them will eventually act out their sick fantasies. Law enforcement statistics are showing this trend. It’s important that you take some basic precautions to protect your kids.
1. Trust your gut. If you feel uneasy about someone, don’t let them be alone with your kids. Sometimes the Holy Spirit is trying to tell you something and you need to listen. Or, you might be picking up on subtle signals that you can’t easily identify, but that tell you something isn’t quite right. Or, both.
2. Tell your children that no one is allowed to see them or touch them in the area covered by their underwear or bathing suit — and they aren’t allowed to see or touch anyone else there either. The only exceptions are their parents or someone their parents have asked to help them, such as a doctor or grandparent with the parents’ permission. (Oh, and their future mate after they’re married!)
3. Let them know that if anyone asks them not to tell their parents something, that’s a huge red flag that they should tell their parents right away. You might lose the chance to be surprised by a birthday present, but it’s worth it.
4. Make sure they know that if someone threatens them, or threatens someone or something they love, then they need to get adult help right away. Let them know you can take care of them and and you can protect yourself, that they need your help. Remind them that you are supposed to be protecting them, they don’t have to protect you.
5. Ask your children occasionally if anything is bothering them or if there’s something they’ve wanted to tell you, but maybe didn’t know how. Do this especially if you see any change of behavior or personality.
6. Remember that horrible things can happen very quickly. Some predators take delight in molesting their victims when their parents are nearby or even in the room. One mom said that in the time it took the kids to go get toys from the basement, her child was shown a pornographic movie on a phone by a man who was renting the downstairs apartment. It took less than two minutes for the boy to be exposed. If you are uneasy, don’t take your eyes off them.
7. Don’t be deceived. Most children are not molested by strangers but by people their families trusted. Watch out for grownups who seem way more focused on the kids than the adults. Don’t make your kids show physical affection to people they don’t want to.
8. You have a right, and a responsibility, to say No. If someone wants to take your child somewhere and you don’t feel good about it, say No. If someone is interacting with your child in a way that makes you uneasy, say No. If someone wants your child to stay overnight and it makes you uncomfortable, say No. In fact, we don’t do sleepovers at all except for grandparents or whole families, which stay together. The risks have risen enormously since we were kids and there was plenty of opportunity for sin then–it happened to schoolmates of ours. You don’t have to feel bad about saying No, either. Just say, “I’m sorry. That won’t be possible,” and move on. Your child is your responsibility.
9. You need to know that some predators are other kids. We’ve heard stories recently about kids being molested by neighbor kids while they played in the yard or while they were supposed to be playing with toys in their bedroom. It’s probably best for kids to play with friends in the common areas of the house or with adult supervision around. It’s a different world than it was when we were children and you have no idea what other kids have been exposed to. Unfortunately, you need to know that sometimes predators are siblings. This is a horrific thought, but it happens. Be aware, especially in blended, adoptive, or foster families where kids aren’t biologically related. In blood siblings, sometimes porn is a motivator.
10. Protect your kids from porn. Interest in porn can be a symptom a child’s been molested. Or, porn use can make them more susceptible to molesters. Worse still, porn can tempt them to act out themselves. No one wants to find out their child has become a predator, yet we know several really good, Christian families who’ve had to deal with that devastating discovery. Protect your kids. Get some kind of accountability software on every internet capable device in your home. We use Covenant Eyes and have used it for years. We love that it allows you to set different levels of filtering or accountability for each family member. You can support our ministry (affiliate link coming!) and try it for 30 days free by clicking here.
It’s serious. Our kids need our protection more than ever. Step up to the plate, overcome your embarrassment and go to bat for them. You won’t regret it.
Hal & Melanie
Oh, yeah! We’ve written a new book for guys in their teens and twenties. It’s called Love, Honor, and Virtue: Gaining or Regaining a Biblical Attitude Toward Sexuality.