Education is the Key!
The most important thing parents can do to prevent child abuse is to get educated on the subject. Get the facts. Be willing and available to talk to your child. This information is designed to answer some of your questions. If you need more assistance, call us at (803) 644-5100.
5 Steps to Protecting Our Children Tips - Parent Tips & Suggestions
1. Step 1 - Learn the Facts
- "One of the hardest things I have had to do is to defend to my family why my child (at age 8) couldn't sleep in a dorm setting because there was no supervision."
- "When I look at my child's classroom, I try to remember that there is a possibility that 1 or 2 children are victims of sexual abuse (either current or past)."
2. Step 2 - Minimize Opportunity - Eliminate or reduce isolated, one-on-one situations and insist that child serving organizations have policies that do also.
- " I check to make sure that every camp that my child attends have a child safety policy. I look to see if it includes - how they handle the bathroom, how they avoid camp counselors being left in a one-on-one situation, do they train their camp counselor in sexual abuse prevention."
- "I once refused to let my kids go to a gymnastics camp in Augusta, because they didn't have a policy (10 + years ago). They told me that all their camp leaders are former or current students and they trust them. My mind went back to Step #1."
- We once had a parent run out of a Stewards of Children training. At first we thought she was upset. When we followed up with her, she stated that her child was in a music lesson in a room that had a closed door and no window."
- " I make a point to pick random times to stop by my children's daycare and/or summer camps. I also check to make sure that the windows on the doors are not covered up. That way they know that anyone can stop in at anytime."
- "When I was in Walmart (or some other store or location), and my boys were younger (but to old to go in the women's bathroom), I would stand at the men's bathroom entrance and make my boys whistle or hum the entire time they were in there. If it seemed like a long time, I would ask questions like 'are you OK?' or 'almost done?'. That way everyone in the bathroom knew I was right there."
- "When kids are playing in my house, there is a no door closed policy, except for the bathroom."
3. Talk About It - Have open conversations with children about their bodies, sex and boundaries
- "I always wanted my child to learn what sex is from me and not on the playground. So when my 8 year old asked on the way to football practice "Daddy, what is sex?" I bought a book called 'It's So Amazing'. We told him that we didn't have time to talk about it now, but we would talk about it over the weekend. So we sat down and read the book and answered his questions. I'll be honest, it was a little uncomfortable, but it really payed off later when he was a teenager to come to me and ask questions or tell me things he heard about sex from his friends (which were never factual)."
- "We always used correct terms with our boys. They didn't always use the correct terms (slang around their friends) but at least I knew they knew their body parts (and girls parts too). I felt really good the day that my daycare called and told me that another child accidentally on my son's privates during nap time. Well apparently everyone in the daycare found out from my son that this child stepped on his penis. Although I laughed at the time, I was also glad that my child to be able to explain using correct terms when someone hurt his private parts."
- "As adults, I believe we need to teach children about respecting personal boundaries and that it is OK to say 'No' to any touch that makes them feel uncomfortable. For example, my oldest child is not a 'hugger'. When he was young, it took time for him to warm up to another person (even his grandparents) for him to give a hug. Well one time when I picked him up from the after school program, he stated that 'he was never going back there'. I pulled over the car and it took 15 min to get out of him that one of the after school program staff members wanted to give him a hug and he said 'no'. Then a few minutes later, she came up behind him and hugged him. Needless to say he was so angry. In response, I made sure my son knew I had his back. I turned the car around, went back to the school and had a long talk with that staff person. She was so sweet but it never occurred to her that a child wouldn't want a hug."
- "When we have babysitters over, I make sure that they know our bedtime routine is for babysitters - no bath, we made sure they were either already dressed in their PJ's or were told to change in their rooms by themselves, no tickle games, bedtime books were to be read sitting on the floor and if the kids wanted them to lie down with them to go to sleep, that they needed to lie on the floor next to the kids bed. That way the next day I could ask questions like 'so what did bed time look like?' 'what games did you play?' 'how did they put you to bed?'. Kids tend to get on the defensive when you ask a question like - did anyone touch you?"
4. Recognize the Signs - know the signs of abuse in order to protect children from further harm.
5. React Responsibly - know how to respond to risky behaviors and suspicions or make a report to the proper authority.
- "I learned from Stewards of Children, that if I suspect, I should report it. It is their job to determine if there is enough evidence to investigate it."
- "On a field trip, I saw a child who was uncomfortable with an overly affectionate parent. I went up to the parent and suggested that fist bumps might be better, because I heard a virus was going around the school. Yeah, it was a lie but it worked."
Parents and Caregivers - 5 steps to Protecting Our Children
South Carolina Sex Offender Registry - http://services.sled.sc.gov/sor/