Crime Prevention Corner - Taking steps to ensure child safety more important than ever

Ron Craig

        There has been much publicity recently regarding sexual assaults against children, abduction of children, and child pornography. It is abhorrent, but we cannot turn a blind eye to the subject of teaching our children what they should do if they find themselves in such situations.
        It is always time to take a few minutes to think about child safety, and this is especially true during the summer months when children are more likely to be outside.
        As parents and adults, we know hearing kids scream is somewhat of a normal thing during playtime, but when we hear it, we need to take a moment to check it out to make sure it’s normal play. None of us would want to later find out it was a cry for help that went unnoticed.
        The idea of a child kicking and screaming in an unsafe incident is part of what is taught to youngsters in “Stranger Danger” instruction. Parents should make sure their children take this class, or at least get online and share this information with their youngsters.
        Many times, the offender is known to the family of the child. Although we want no one to harm a child, it is truly unfortunate when a friend or relative of the family is the perpetrator. It is the trust that has been forged between a family’s friend or relative and the child that is sometimes the catalyst behind the offense.
        It can be difficult to have conversations with a child about inappropriate touching, but unfortunately in today’s times it has become a must. A child should be told what body parts should not be touched by others, making sure it is emphasized the differences of bathing by someone with permission to do so.
        It may be easier to explain issues involving body parts if a doll is used. It may also be wise to use a doll that is already familiar to the child.
        It is equally important to teach children it is acceptable for them to resist having their pictures taken, particularly when the photos are being taken of them with few or no clothes being worn. This is true regardless whether someone is using a regular camera or a cell phone. A cell phone can be more casual, leading a child to believe such photos may be more acceptable.
        Parents should also make it a point to talk to all their children, including teens, about internet and texting safety. Youngsters can fall prey to sharing inappropriate photos and language across these devices.
        Predators have also been known to shame kids into doing things they would otherwise not do, such as sending inappropriate photos or engaging in inappropriate discussions. If a predator knows something about the child or teen about which the youngster would be embarrassed for others to know, that predator may use that information to extort the youngster into sending illicit photos.
        Perpetrators have also used shame to keep their victims silent about inappropriate behavior and activities by making them believe they are at fault for what has transpired. Parents need to encourage their children to be open and honest with them when such activity has taken place.
        In summary, the keys to thwarting child sexual abuse is generally two-fold: education and communication. Educating children about what is and isn’t appropriate touching and behavior, along with encouraging open and honest dialogue about child sexual abuse, can mean the difference between a child becoming a victim and being one who has avoided it.
        This article is a public service from the Crime Prevention Division of the Lake Township Police Department. Township residents may obtain further information on crime prevention and public safety topics by contacting Ron Craig, crime prevention specialist/community policing officer, at 419-481-6354.


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