Friend or Foe.....
As scary as it may be, parents need to talk to their children about people who might want to hurt them. The best way to protect your children is to get them involved in their own protection. Its not just `strangers` who harm children. Explain that it can be someone who they know very well , male or female. Children need to recognise how their body feels when they feel unsafe. This intuition can help them to spot when something is wrong. Ask them how they feel when they get scared - they may have butterflies in their tummy or their heart may beat faster. These are all warning signs. Talk to tem about what they can do and who they can tell and get help from.
· Talk to your children about people who want to harm them as soon as they can understand what you mean. As early as 3-5 years old, when kids begin to interact with the world, they're subject to being victims
· Don't be afraid that you're scaring your children, but don't ask them to deal with adult issues either. Speak to them in age-appropriate language and give them instructions about what to do. They will feel empowered by knowing how to protect themselves.
· Children need to know that they have the right to say no, yell, or ask for help. It may contradict what they know about respecting adults, but if they feel threatened, they have permission to make a scene, or to run away to a public place. And they need to know they won't get into trouble if they were wrong. Let them know that no one has the right to hurt them. Teach your child to call you if someone arrives when there are no other adults around.
· Rehearse your child's response to danger. If he/she doesn't practice it, your child really won't really know what to do. Telling your child to yell for help isn't enough. In the face of danger, a child could forget, so rehearse, role-play, and practice what your child should do.
Remind your children that predators don't necessarily look scary or strange. A dangerous person could look like the person next door, or even be someone they know. People who mean harm to children often trick children into going with them quietly. Teach your children that adults should ask for help from adults, not children. Abductors have tricked kids into going with them by offering them something, asking for directions or even saying that their parent/guardian has asked them to pick them up. If an adult is asking for help, they should say "No!" and run away to tell a safe grownup.