Family & Social Child Developement
Keeping your child safe from sexual predators
Sexual abuse is a frightening risk for every child, but parents often wonder when and how to talk to their kids about this topic. Instead of turning away from the harsh reality, here are some steps you can implement early on and reinforce often to help protect your child.
Let them create their own safety network
Teach your child about having five adults they can trust who will believe in them under all circumstances. They should inform their safety network if anyone makes them feel uncomfortable, unsafe or bad about anything. Let the child decide who they want to add to their safety network.
Talk to your kids
The idea is not to scare them but to educate them. Telling them about good touch and bad touch as early as possible will go a long way in keeping them safe against the lurking dangers of sexual predators, even if you are not there to physically monitor them, for instance in school or on public transport. Talk to them also about the potential dangers for them to meet sexual predators online and to watch out for tactics that an online predator may use.
Their body, their choice
Kids as early as three years of age should be able to understand if you tell them that parts of their body are private and not for anyone to touch. Also, let them know that they cannot be forced to touch someone else's private parts. Keep the talk simple and focus on appropriate and inappropriate behaviour rather than going into lengthy discussions. Use real names of the body parts rather than made up names.
Go beyond strangers
Most predators are familiar to kids so its necessary to tell them not to spend much time beyond their safe network and in unfamiliar surroundings. The majority of abuse is not committed by strangers but by people you know or even loved ones.
Danger of secrets
A majority of sexual predators manipulate the kids to keep the abuse as their little secret. It is important to remind your child that no adult should ever ask them to keep a secret, even you as a parent, or else it will confuse the child. Teach your child to inform their adult safety network straightaway in such a scenario.
Believe in your child
It is important to believe in your child. Constantly questioning their beliefs will make them scared and reluctant to share their fears with you. It is necessary to create a relationship of trust and faith with your kids, especially when you are explaining to them about inappropriate touching. They should know that you believe in them and not be angry if they ever come and share their concerns and fear about any such incident.
Be informed and selective about where your child goes for a sleepover, preferably with friends whose parents are known to you. Avoid large groups as a missing child may be difficult to spot. And always trust your gut instinct when it comes to your child and their safety. It's better to be mean to them than to take a chance for a mishap to occur.
Be available for them
Keep some time aside exclusively for your child where they have your undivided attention. This will encourage them to come and share their concerns and fears.
Do not hesitate to take corrective action when it comes to your notice about any untoward incident concerning your child. It is better to be safe than sorry.
What to do if you suspect abuse?
If you suspect a case of child abuse, report it immediately. The Ministry of Social and Family Development in Singapore carries investigations into child abuse cases. The following agencies can be contacted to report cases of suspected abuse:
Child Protective Service Helpline: 1800-777 0000
Child Protection Specialist Centres
Monday Friday 9.30am 5.30pm
Big Love Child Protection Specialist Centre
Monday Friday 9.00am 6.00pm
Monday Friday 9.00am 1.00pm; 2.00pm 6.00pm
You can also contact the Police Divisional HQ or the nearest Police Post in the neighbourhood.
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